In Praise of Ceramics
In ‘In Praise of Ceramics’, a group of artists with different styles and skills combine their talents to create an enormous ceramic piece of art to be placed on an historic spot in the city center of Utrecht.
It was here in the Strosteeg were ceramic production company Sint Lukas was located around 100 years ago; it’s ceramic products are still very popular among collectors because of its special glazing. Later on, collective De Vier Paddestoelen (the four mushrooms) was founded here, a cooperation of four ceramic artists. Jan van Ham, the last one to be alive, started a work studio in an medieval cellar on the Twijstraat later on, under the name ‘Het Bolwerk’, which Gert de Rijk took over in the 1960’s.
After an initial meeting to discuss the possibilities, a couple of ceramists from the centre of Utrecht were asked to create a design and a financial plan. These artists were: Kees Achterberg, Tsjerk Holtrop, Gert de Rijk, and graphic designer Anna Smits. Visual artists (and brothers) Anco and Henk van der Haar were asked as well, as they had formed a ceramist collective with Gert de Rijk (who passed away in 2009) and graphic artists Gerard van Rooy (1938-2006), called Z4. Gert de Rijk had been the binding force in the group, a role he had played before; for many years his work studio had been the founding place for other artist to gather and plan activities and manifestations.
Utrecht’s city poet, Ingmar Heytze, who’s great-grandfather had been the creative motor power behind Sint Lukas, wrote a poem that will be part of the mural in both normal writing and Braille.
In the film ‘In Praise of Ceramics’, we follow the group of artists while they design and discuss the initial ideas throughout the finalization of the project and the festivities to launch the opening of the artwork in the Strosteeg. The focus lies on the cooperation between the artists: how to get consensus on the design and how to divide the tasks? It is clear that the objective is to create a ceramic mural about ceramic art itself, but should it be educative as well? And how to integrate Heytze’s poem in the artwork and make sure the mural is protected from vandalism?