Saunders believes that every utilitarian pottery object has wonderful potential for the artist. Saunders had been enjoying working on candle-holders and toast-racks but had had little response commercially. Then someone suggested 'people love jugs'. As he does too, so he made this series - as different as possible from any of his previous jugs.
Tall, oval-sectioned jug with a cream base glaze, decorated with multicoloured ceramic transfers. 2004 Made in Fressingfield
The jug is made in a plastic ivory-coloured clay, with an addition of molochite to prevent cracking. It is press-moulded (somewhat Easter egg-like) with the seam running vertically. Press-moulding is an old technique used extensively for many articles - including the large jugs from the jug-and-bowl sets seen in every Victorian bedroom - until that is, the invention of slip-casting in the latter parts of the nineteenth century. The handle is, in fact, slipcast and applied on the junction seam. While still 'leather-hard', indents were pressed into the surface which were coloured in blue slip in a polka dot arrangement.
At one point I found myself looking down on to a group of four dishes impressed with leaf patterns, and appreciating their quietness, their simplicity and ceramic qualities. In contrast, I found some other work far too sophisticated, as if every trick in the artistic handbook had been used. But is it for me to offer such opinions? Thinking about the show and this review it struck me that the world potters inhabit is such an interesting one. Our concerns are with little scratchings and squeezings, bumps and hollows, rough bits and smooth bits, which are of such importance to us that they can raise such strong responses. We are fortunate in our association, with its exhibitions, meetings and newsletter, because it enables us to emerge from our cocoons, air our beliefs, and listen to those of others.
If, as often happens with my ceramics, I notice that even after the glaze-firing when the piece is 'finished' in the usable sense of the word, it lacks the quality I believe the Germans call gestalt. I then continue working on the surface. In the case of this jug, I have done so with ceramic transfers which mean the piece has to be returned to the kiln for a third firing. Pieces can be fired repeatedly (until destruction sometimes) but in this case the three firings - the biscuit firing, the glaze firing and than the enamel firing - seemed sufficient.
Saunders champions a creative medium that has been consistently debased over centuries by cheap commercial production. As a result, even his most restrained pieces, his Canteen Jugs, for example, appear gloriously hyper-real in comparison with the mean designs of more commercially made jugs.