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Pottery Project Guest Blog: Ceramic Inheritance

By Alice Stevenson, on 6 April 2014

Guest Blog by Sisse Lee Jørgenser.

In our fourth in the series on different perspectives on Egyptian pottery Sisse Lee Jørgensen, a student studying ceramics at The Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design Bornholm, Denmark, reveals how Petrie’s Sequence Dating inspired her recent installation.

I was introduced to Petrie’s pots for the first time by the BBC4 program: “The Man Who Discovered Egypt”,  and it was through this documentary that I learnt about sequence dating.
As a craftsperson today I found this  chronological ordering of ceramic vessels especially interesting, particularly the very striking development of form and design over time. Petrie’s findings illuminated crafting, culture and history, not just in the past but also  prompted me to reflect upon ceramic traditions today and the way in which old crafts are transformed and passed on, yet retain elements of the old ways.

Flinders Petrie's classification of pottery. Frontispiece of Diospolis Parva (1901). Courtesy of the Egypt Exploration Society.

Flinders Petrie’s classification of Predynastic pottery. Frontispiece of Diospolis Parva (1901). Courtesy of the Egypt Exploration Society.

Regardless of the modern world’s industrialization and mass production there’s still a craving for handmade things. Clay adapts and evolves, yet traces of the past remain.

In the arrangement of my pots in my work, I wanted the pot to be a symbol of then and now, and to consider whether tradition is considered as a burden or a  legacy. This is one way of gaining a perspective on our history and culture of ceramics.

Art work on ceramic inheritance by artist Sisse Lee Jorgenser. Copyright the artist.

Ceramic inheritance, by artist Sisse Lee Jorgenser. Copyright the artist.

Being confronted with the past leads to questions:

Would you as a ceramic craft person/or artist confront your burden/legacy? Would you want to change and develop it, and in that case in which form? And would it/would you affect tradition, craft, culture and history?

And perhaps most importantly: do you care or not? If not, can you avoid it anyway?

Humans are storytellers. We wish to leave our fingerprints in time and the world we live in. We leave clues to future generations about who we were, what we did and how we lived while we were here. And there’s a certain thrill in thinking about me/you, today/tomorrow, leaving a trace that can be dated in the future. Becoming part of the tradition, becoming a burden and legacy of this craft, and becoming part of a sequence.

For more of Sisse Lee’s work, including more responses to Petrie’s ceramic sequences, see sisselee.tumblr.com


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