There is an age old spirit of collaboration among ceramic artists by which many still live. In the early 1900’s little was known in the western world about high fire ceramics until potters like Bernard Leach and many of his students went to study in the East. They brought back all they learned, adding to this all their own artistic sensibilities. They wrote books, taught workshops and took on apprentices. The spirit was one of sharing a knowledge for the advancementvof of the craft.
Though this spirit doesn’t exist as plentifully as it once did it is still alive and well. Ironically it is often those with the most knowledge, skill and spirit of innovation who are most willing to share. (Those who hold their secrets tight are often those afraid to lose the little they have.)
Enter the tiny framed and huge spirited Cecile Cayrol. I met Cecile in her beautiful pottery studio in old city Arles and she has opened her studio and her studio life to me with a huge heart smile.
Cecile, a native Arlesian who’s uncles dove regularly in the Rhone to rucuperate ancient Roman pottery pieces, loved the family garden as a child and the feeling of the earth in her hands. She would bring clay from the garden into the house and make what she could from it.
The very month she was of a legal age to work in France she left home to seek an apprentiship in the famous pottery making village of Vallarius where Picasso had his ceramics made. It was rare for the Vallarius masters to accept a female apprentice, but Cecile would not be stopped, though the potter with whom she worked was often harder on her because she was a woman. He would say as he critiqued, and sometimes destroyed her work, that to be a potter demanded a very strong character capable of persevering through great hardship.
Cecile passed the test. She is now raising her three sons by making pots and teaching others from her very quaint and beautiful atelier in the heart of Arles. Thank you Cecile for opening your atelier to me. I couldn’t be more excited about the work we will produce and exhibit together.