The Making Game, 7 July 2010

Excerpt from "The Making Game" Jeanette Winterson.
Jerwood Contemporary Makers, 16 June - 25 July 2010, Jerwood Space, London SE1 0LN.

The most satisfying thing a human being can do – and the sexiest – is to make something.

Life is about relationship – to each other – and to the material world. Making something is a relationship.

The verb is the clue. We make love, we make babies, we make dinner, we make sense, we make a difference, we make it up, we make it new…

True, we sometimes make a mess, but creativity never was a factory finish.

The wrestle with material isn’t about subduing; it is about making a third thing that didn’t exist before. The raw material was there, and you were there, but the relationship that happens between maker and material allows the finished piece to be what it is. And that allows a further relationship to develop between the piece and the viewer or the buyer.

Both relationships are in every way different from mass production or store bought objects that, however useful, are dead on arrival. Anyone who makes something finds its life, whether it’s Michelangelo releasing David from twenty tons of Carrara marble, or potter Jane Cox spinning me a plate using the power of her shoulders, the sureness of her hands, the concentration of her mind.

I have a set of silverware made by an eighteenth century silverworker called Hester Bateman, one of the very few women working in flatware at that time. When I eat with her spoons, I feel the work and the satisfaction that went into making them – the handle and bowl are in equal balance – and I feel a part of time as it really is – not chopped into little bits, but continuous. She made this beautiful thing, it’s still here, and I am here too, writing my books, eating my soup, two women making things across time. I feel connection, respect, delight. And it is just a spoon…

But the thing about craft, about the making of everyday objects that we can have around us, about the making of objects that are beautiful and/or useful, is that our everyday life is enriched.

How is it enriched? To make something is to be both conscious and concentrated – it is a fully alert state, but not one of anxious hyperarousal. We all know the flow we feel when we are absorbed in what we do. I find that by having a few things around me that have been made by someone’s hand and eye and imagination working together, I am prevented from passing through my daily life in a kind of blur. I have to notice what is in front of me – the table, the vase, the handblocked curtains, the thumb prints in the sculpture, the lettering block. I have some lamps made by Marianna Kennedy, and what I switch on is not a bulb on a stem; it is her sense of light...

Chien-wei Chang
One After Another
silver, brass,ebony