‘In Conversation’ with Michael O Brien

‘In Conversation’ with Michael OBrien flowed easily from rigorous technical understanding to his years in Nigeria with Michael Cardew, locating rather than importing, materials for high firing and training Nigerian Potters.

All questions were answered thoughtfully and generously, his overlaying of rich black Tenmokus with iron painting and luscious cream/white Nuka glazes patiently explained.

The strong sense of design and pattern in Michaels work resonated with the collection of beautiful African cloth from Mali, Zaire and Nigeria that he had amassed over the years. He brought a small selection of his glaze test library, numbered in the hundreds, which left us all awestruck.

The morning was a glimpse into a Ceramic world that has changed so dramatically as to be almost incomprehensible to young Makers who can buy all materials/view how to use them on YouTube and expect to sell pots made from them.

It’s hoped to make the film ‘Tatiko, the Story of an African Pot’ more widely available as an astonishing tour de force of skilled making. After a Tatiko woman, a Potter since the age of 12, had completed a large, perfect storage jar in less than an hour, Michael said “follow that!”  Rather a good comment to make about his visit to WSP as well.

Julia Quigley

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