In the dynamic journey of artistic creation, there’s an underrated virtue I’ve grown to deeply value: patience. I wanted to write about the significance of bringing pauses into my practice and what lessons are embedded in these moments of stillness.

Artistic processes, particularly in the domain of ceramics, are neither instantaneous nor linear. The medium itself, clay, demands both my time and attention. I liken it to how the seed of an idea takes time to germinate and grow, and clay, too, requires its own rhythm, from moulding to drying and firing. It doesn’t rush, and neither should we. Everything about working with clay, glazes and kilns is temporal, if you try to rush it, well…you get rushed work right?

So, I have been thinking more about what does it mean to ‘pause’. It’s more than a simple cessation of action. To me, it signifies a deliberate act of stepping back, breathing, and grounding myself. In our modern, fast-paced world, pauses might seem counterproductive. Yet, in the arena of ceramics, they’re a potent conduit for introspection and refinement.

As I work the clay, there are moments when the material speaks back. It resists, it cracks, it tells me it needs more time. It wants to be wrapped in plastic to settle and homogenise. Here, patience isn’t just a virtue; it’s a necessity. By embracing these pauses, I allow my insights to marinate and my skills to catch up with my vision.

In these gaps of stillness, I often stumble upon revelations. Sometimes, it’s about the piece I’m working on, a technique I could employ or a design element I hadn’t previously considered. Other times, it’s a broader realisation about my life, creativity, or my artistic wayfaring.

But patience doesn’t come naturally. Like a muscle, it has to be exercised and nurtured. In my earlier days, I admit, I found these pauses frustrating (I didn’t pause), almost akin to stagnation. But over time, and with more experience, I’ve come to appreciate the depth they add to my practice.

For instance, after moulding a piece, I resist the urge to immediately proceed. Instead, I let it sit, giving myself the space to mull over its form and essence. It’s like letting a story unfold organically, rather than forcing a narrative. These periods of reflection, these deliberate pauses, allow me to approach my work with renewed clarity and purpose.

Recently, while immersing myself in reading about spatial experiences, I realised that every space, physical or mental, benefits from areas of ‘nothingness’. These voids or gaps accentuate the ‘filled’ portions, lending meaning and perspective. The same philosophy applies to my ceramic works. The pauses amplify the potency of the productive phases.

Closing Thoughts

Engaging with fellow artists, like my skilful friend Amanda Gardener, I once heard her describe how her work often revolves around the transformative power of patience. She once remarked how her collage pieces evolve when she takes deliberate breaks between layering. These interludes, she observed, provide the distance needed to see the bigger picture.

So, while travelling from inspiration to creation, where it is peppered with action, energy, and dynamism, it’s the silent, seemingly dormant moments that breathe soul into my endeavours By weaving patience and pauses into my practice, I don’t just mould clay. I sculpt experiences, memories, and a bit of myself into every piece. The magic, it seems, is as much in the making as it is in the waiting.