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This page contains the detailed report written by a practicing potter working in Bristol.

Positive points of NEVAC material:

  • Some good group discussion/ appraisals.
  • Interesting and diverse viewpoints and analysis of pottery.
  • Good selection of subject material and interviews.
  • Diverse settings and locations.
  • Particularly good interviews with two or more potters, which was a fresh and inspiring aspect and one which is rarely seen.
  • Individuals giving clear and defined responses to work which is not their own was most intriguing.
  • Some interesting, quirky and personal responses regarding an in depth history of makers/industry.
  • Personal answers and opinions can be seen and heard, which when read in academic textbooks does not contain the same honesty, passion or clarity.
  • The videos provide an interesting way to meet the maker.
  • To see an individual who previously was recognizable only from the pieces they produce.
  • Demonstrations and studio-based interviews were most informative.
  • The potters' technical descriptions of manufacture alongside a visual of the piece being described were good and helped to give a concise understanding of how/why/what was used to make it.

Positive comments on the interviewing approach:

  • Some good studio/workshop situations which are visually more appealing than a craftsman in his lounge.
  • Some good choice of interviewers who asked direct and probing questions.
  • The diversity of venue is good especially where the potter is taken from home to garden giving the viewer another aspect together with a visual tour of the potters home environment.
  • To see the maker at work whilst in discussion provides a good visual stimulus and whilst being educational via audio, information is also given through the actions of making a piece.
  • One particularly interesting and informative interview was watching and listening to Kate Malone discuss her work from within her exhibition. In my opinion this gave a good visual image and informative audio. It also gave the viewer a different and informal approach where the potter obviously felt at ease discussing her work.
  • I have found that the information gained by the interviewer to be good. A wide variety of questions have resulted in different aspects of each potter being probed. They extracted good historical, factual and personal responses.

Critical comments on the interviewing approach:

  • The interviewer did not introduce themselves or the interviewed, this led to confusion.
  • The interview content could be perhaps less formal.
  • I found there to be a lack of structure to the interviews with some being sketchy or with long pauses.
  • I feel that a more searching line of questions would be of use.
  • The interviewer could play more of a role with them giving responses and interacting more in the conversations.
  • I found it hard to comprehend where I was in the interview as there were no guides or menu's to tell me what sections of the video may be of specific interest.

Critical comments on the content of the video:

  • A more wide-ranging group of potters/craftspeople needs to be represented.
  • A wider range of age groups needs to be represented.
  • More variety in styles of work is needed.
  • A wider diversity in situation should be introduced with careful consideration given to the surroundings.
  • It would be interesting and beneficial to see a larger variety of styles in the potters interviewed which may include; sculptural ceramics, abstract, conceptual, industrial produced pieces and indeed other forms of craft.
  • More diversity of surroundings/images/close ups within one interview, I found that some of the interviews concentrated for too long within one location. This was not good visually.
  • The archive at present contains many elements that I am interested in, however I feel that my main interest is in the more contemporary issues raised. For example there was a great deal of interesting material regarding opinions n work made today, when these issues were raised and juxtaposed against pieces made perhaps in the early seventies, then these topics became most attractive. As a contemporary potter I was most interested to hear discussions and critiques of this kind.
  • I also gained inspiration and knowledge from many of the demonstrations carried out by the potters, this was of great relevance as a maker. As an individual my interests are many and varied, the discussions with 'historical legends' were appealing and the content good. This was at its best in critiques and in a studio setting as I found the information hard to digest when the interviews were carried out in one situation for a length of time e.g. a lounge.

Critical comments on technical aspects of the recordings:

  • The start up and beginning of each interview left me confused as to where I was in the conversation as the stagger start was difficult to comprehend.
  • Apart from the occasional scuff of a microphone the sound quality was good but this type of interference is confusing.
  • The picture quality could have been improved through more detailed shots which are accurately framed or edited.

Prefered layout of the web-based video database:

Possible searches:

  • Crafts person
  • Crafts discipline
  • Techniques e.g. thrown, cast, handbuilt…
  • Style of work e.g. sculptural, studio…
  • Demonstration
  • Contemporary
  • Critique
  • Group discussion
  • Thesaurus/menu/a-z
  • Historical
  • Keyword
  • Glazes
  • Interviewer
  • Date
  • Name
  • Commissioned work
  • Public art
  • Gallery collection

Drawing by the participant to illustrate how the home page of the database may look

Suggested layout of web-based database front page

General points about how the web-based video database may be organised:

  • As a whole I have found the information so far recorded on the archive to be both informative and interesting. I believe that with careful design and consideration the archives will be an important resource for the collection of information regarding the crafts and one, which I shall definitely use. I feel that the best way forward to achieve this and give vital information to as wider audience as possible is via the Internet.
  • As a group of video's the information included was good and varied, I do however strongly believe that this needs to be expanded with further consideration given to other craft disciplines. As the archive expands I would like to see fresh and innovative approaches to the interview technique with specific relevance being placed on structure and content. This can be best achieved through careful planning and research into questions. This together with good images and a diversity of locations will give an audio and visually stimulating medium.
  • As with all databases the information should be primarily easily accessed in a concise and uncluttered manner with few distractions involving complicated links rendering the viewer lost in cyberspace! A map of the site would be a good thing perhaps incorporating icons specific to each category e.g. potters, technical, demo's, historical content, critiques etc. I feel strongly that a navigation bar should be used across the bottom of each video played. This may incorporate images, which tell the viewer what is happening at a certain stage, this was not present in the archives current form and would be most beneficial.
  • As with all visual material relating to the crafts, the images should be well framed and relevant to the audio material. This should be stimulating to the eye whilst the audio being informative and of sufficient clarity. With some of the interviews there was little if any time spent filming the pieces made, these were sometimes poorly framed and played no relevance to the conversation. Should this be resolved to give a concise and informative section then visually the videos will be more appealing.
  • With regards to the beginning of interviews I feel that a certain amount of editing maybe beneficial, microphone scuffs and stagger starts are distracting and left me unsure as to what was being asked. For the most the interviews had good content, however this was only apparent after careful searching, a direct link to sections which may be relevant to a search would be helpful enabling the user easy access and omitting a long and time consuming search through the length of the video's.
  • Users of the archive will come from a disparate catchment area each with different requirements. With little or no knowledge of the content of the archive, a short and informative approach to each video would be welcomed. Perhaps this would include a concise one-sentence description of its content, highlighted with image icons describing the scene visually. This may work when a keyword is entered, bringing up exactly the right point in the video and not at the beginning.
  • My initial thoughts for the home page is to be descriptive and clear using only a few words telling the viewer exactly what the archive is, there should be no flashing symbols but a well designed emblem or motif relevant to the crafts. I would like to see a tool that would give me the ability to select sections or clips and play them in a chosen order. This may also be a useful aspect when typing in a keyword, software could bring together all clips which are relevant this may also be a means of creating a personal archive where the user can store information as a way of collating images or specific clips.
  • With regards to individual potters I think it would be helpful if a whole page or section was dedicated to each. This would include more details and descriptive sentences about the video content, again I feel that image icons and stills would be a good way of displaying this information. Perhaps another keyword section within this page would give the user an even more specific search but this time it would be relevant only to the potter or craftsperson.
  • Probably the most informative interviews for myself were the group discussions and critiques. Not only did they contain important historical content but also they gave an interesting angle of the personal views of each potter, the whole idea created a more relaxed approach and gave the potter time to form personal responses interjected with humorous tales or anecdotes. It was brilliant to hear different people discussing other peoples work, this is only found in journals and even then it is one sided. I would like to see more of this type of interview and believe it would be a most intriguing part of the archive and an area, which would be quite exclusive.
  • Together with group discussions I found the interviews in a gallery space to be a fresh and inspiring approach, often you will only see the pots. A real response and meaning was delivered through listening and seeing the pots that the potter had created. Perhaps this could be done more with direct questions relating to why the maker made the pieces/ were they happy with the exhibition/ how did they make them.
  • I can appreciate the factual aspect contained in the audio material but I have much respect for the information gained via watching a piece being created. As a maker this can be just as valuable as the spoken word with information given through actions which would otherwise be hard to comprehend via a vocal description. I believe that more interviews of this kind would satisfy many peoples interest and would help to create an archive of makers making which at present is unavailable in any form.
  • The beginning of each interview must include an introduction to the interviewer and interviewee, perhaps also including a brief historical context to the maker.

Drawing by the participant to illustrate how the search page of the database may look

Suggested layout for the search page of the web-based video database

To sum up I have included a list of points that I feel may be beneficial

  • To access the archive via the Internet
  • To increase the amount of video material
  • To interview a more and diverse range of the crafts
  • To interview more age ranges
  • To interview more craftspeople from different era's, historical, contemporary, sculptural, studio, industrial
  • To have a more structured interview
  • To give a better visual content i.e. change of location, close up shots
  • To include more technical demonstrations
  • To have a broad range of interviewers
  • To have more critical analysis or issues relating to a group of craftspeople discussing work
  • To introduce the interviewer and interviewee
  • To edit or cut microphone scuffs and stagger starts
  • To provide via menu's and search facilities a clear and simple means of accessing specific information
  • To include a simple image icon which describes the video as a footer on the navigation bar
  • To provide a clear description on the home page together with an 'enter' button
  • To design a suitable corporate image which will describe clearly what the archive offers
  • To give clear information via text and images as to what each interview contains
  • To give a first time user easy access to all material via clear menus or means of search
  • To provide a separate page/menu for all interviews/ subject/ discipline which would help to narrow down specific searches

In all I have found the archive to be a fascinating insight into the thoughts, lives and work of many craftspeople. With careful management and good technical delivery via the Internet I am sure that the archive will grow into a definitive, historical and informative source of information. It is already a unique and inspirational concept offering factual and visual references previously unavailable. I am excited at the prospect of its growth and will continue to use it as a vital point of reference.

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