CATHERINE CHEVALIER TODRANI - AS EARTH & FIRE - NORMANDY - FRANCE
"The government is happy for us to occupy the space but also give us the gun to kill our selves slowly there " Catherine likes to summarize the status of French artisan potter in Lower in such a though way as it is hard for them to make a decent living.
Too isolated in the countryside, away from markets and often difficult to find yet they are numerous artisans to live off their trade, not counting their time spent shaping their works.
Noron dustland has gradually covered the objects that clutter Catherine work space giving the workshop a warm and powdery tone. A lifestyle choice who probably came from a rebellious act that Catherine has shaped her life, since 1983, molding domestic objects of the Normandy tradition, seeking perfection and silence in her hardly disturbed lower Normandy village.
Although it allows some creative daring as its owls with large white eyes wide, she reproduces cidriers, pots has butter, meat quiniettes, cohans a soup, a bobins cider jugs baker miellons has the old-fashioned way.
This clay to shape it chooses - to draw a definitive line on a Parisian life that most suited him and fall in love crazy potter and artist Michel Chevalier - is a dark red soil, rich in iron oxide and extracted from clay sillions that goes from Cherbourg Bayeux. That of Catherine comes from Raoult & Son at Molay Littry.
For work at Catherine tower earth uses a soft sandstone or earth "grog" mixed sand grains, easier to work in molding the (pottery - another term). Are first "biscuit" 800 Degrees before applying a covered Cobalt or Manganese, the only pigments that will stand up to the dark earth at the second firing 1100 degrees. This is manganese which gives this beautiful metallic black, typical of Low Normandy pottery.
Electric furnaces unfortunately no longer allow the surprises of the past as color variations obtained when cooking by different woods or "tears of the potter" natural enamel that was deposited on the edge of the (pot) (better term for that? batch? Pots? Jars ??) by a condensation effect between heat and ashes.
Well sure, it is questionable that still need to drink his soup Cohan, yet its beautiful pottery stoneware easily find place in our daily life, little we tried to put poetry in our daily gestures the manner of Japanese who see may be the taste of a dish with aesthetics which it is associated
"The pottery does not travel" according to Catherine which hardly sells in his area because in France there is much talk of crafts "art" but rarely "dailies" crafts. these skills passed from father to son and mother to daughter have lost their usefulness and that's why we forget them but there are precious and urgent to find them a new destiny at the risk of totally disappear - and we live has never surrounded by objects soulless story to tell.
Can we still ensure the sustainability of our know-how and give our craftsmen has the means to exist in a less binding deal to the dictates of the great economic groups that now dominate global consumption? The challenges are to regain their true need and empower them to avoid suffocation of their communities by multiplying intermediate pyramid systems or patenting and privatizing their knowledge and the transmission of that knowledge?
Until that time and since my return from Normandy, I do not eat my soup in this beautiful land of black bowl and taste seems to be more intense ...
Catherine Chevalier Todrani
Potter in Lower Normandy, France
Workshop Earth & Fire has Vindefontaine - open for business all year (firstname.lastname@example.org)