Work in Progress: Fragment

The piece has evolved through research I've carried out on an object loaned to me by the Museum Resource Centre in Oxfordshire.

Through a study of the pottery fragment in question, I wrote the following text which has since inspired me to consider composing music in order to articulate ideas evolving as a result.

Mediaeval Pottery Shards

Certainly it was broken and it broke at a specific moment in time. The edges of the shard therefore reflect and illustrate this very specific moment in time. There is a sound associated with those edges; a sound I can feel when running a finger over the surface.

There is then within this single shard, evidence of two distinct time spans: 1) the staining caused by it being buried in the ground for several hundred years and 2) the moment it broke – a second in time several hundred years ago.  There is also therefore a sonic quality to the shard in relation to these two periods of time 1) the long sound of silence and 2) the short sound of a break (one can also imagine that this breakage came with other sounds – perhaps that of the person responsible for breaking it?).

[what other sounds were there at this moment in the city?]

The rings are evidence not only of the movement of the wheel but of the person who made the pot. The wheel would have been turned by hand by the potter and then using his hands he could have drawn the clay up to make the pot. Every groove shows the movement and the physical presence of the potter.

[I’m reminded of a record player, with the needle drawn over the surface of the record, replaying a sound that has already happened. In a sense this shard reveals to us something that has already happened – not through the fact of the pot (as a whole) but rather the physical gestures of the potter. Drawing my fingers over the ridges and the grooves and keeping my eyes closed, listening to the everyday things going on around me, I can begin to find a window into the mediaeval world – not by sight, but by touch].

Any work made and inspired by this shard should not necessarily be considered as separate from the pot itself but rather as a continuation of the pot, and just as the fragment is a direct consequence of the thought, skill and physical gestures of a potter living some 5, 6 or 700 years ago, so this work might be considered the same. This shard has been living the same moment ever since it was made and so it continues in this work. The mind of the potter, my mind and that of all who see the work I make will somehow be connected.

To see more about this project, please visit my old website.