'A review February 2006' Karen Downing
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So much has already been written about Rupert Spira and his work. It has been examined through many lenses – art history, ceramic traditions, philosophy, particular forms and technical methods and even the potter’s life. I wondered if there was anything left to say. In search of a focus I went for a walk and, as I walked, I realised that the way I was seeing and feeling the landscape was what I experience when I look at the work of Rupert Spira.
The sky was overcast, the sun brightening the grey sky but not breaking through the cloud. As I crested the river wall, there was a sea mist rolling in over the low-lying river. Boats and buoys sat starkly on the still, silver surface in the foreground, faded to shadows in the middle distance and disappeared entirely where water, land and sky merged into one. There was no horizon line, no sense of scale; I was at once subsumed into, and entirely separate from, the fog. I walked through it and details were unveiled, gradually and almost imperceptibly. The opposite bank, a mooring marker, bird tracks on the mudflats, a wooden post, the very path beneath my feet emerged; familiar markers revealed through the unfamiliar, pointing the way home.
My appreciation and comprehension of Rupert’s work is not rational or intellectual. My response to his work has always been instinctive and emotional. Of course this response also contains a critical element but Rupert’s pots enable me to move beyond the limits of my own sensibilities and judgements, to reach out towards the unfamiliar, secure in the familiar languages of clay, glaze and form.
In the sweep of a bowl, the stretch of a cylinder, the expansive breath of a jar there is a feeling of limitlessness, of possibilities inherent not only in the material but also in the non-material, the metaphysical. Each pot reaches out to touch the universal and yet, because of its own particularities, is firmly rooted in the world.