I was first introduced to the work of Irish potter Jack Doherty four years ago unloading his soda-kiln on a bitterly cold morning in China. At the time, Jack had just been awarded the Janet Mansfield Memorial Award, and was nearing the end of a five-week residency at FuLe Ceramics Museum in Fuping.
The soda-fired pots we unloaded that morning with their scarred and foaming surfaces were like broody landscapes in our mittened hands. Last week, I got my hands on Jack’s stunning new book Living Space. Containing 128 pages of luscious full-page images and articles, Living Space is a celebration of Jack Doherty’s personal practice and significant contribution to Ceramics over the last decade.
I devoured the book in one sitting, but I’m still sitting with Jack’s thoughts on how we live with objects, the slippery nature of function, and the place of ceramics in the world. There’s plenty to chew on here in a very accessible often lyrical way, and beautiful images to pore over and inspire for years. While it’s not a technical book on soda-firing it also contains useful technical notes for soda-firers, and for anyone who is tempted.
Right now, we find ourselves in a volatile and difficult living space, and I found myself reaching for this book yesterday as if the Guardian Vessels within its pages might offer some solace or protection, and as safe-keepers, their place in the world has never been more poignant.
Living Space is available online at https://dohertyporcelain.com/publication
Follow Jack Doherty on Instagram @dohertyporcelain