Modelling in Clay by Eric Griffiths
The Technique of Modelling in Clay by Eric Griffiths (1987) is essentially a book about just that but Eric also has opinions on art in general and isn’t afraid to say so. In his own words “this book is full of my opinions …remember it is only another artists approach” and the “only duty you have is to accept or reject this book’s contents as it suits your need and fancy”.
In the introduction he talks about the role of the teacher, expressing a preference for being considered an expert. He sees a teacher as someone with access to specialized knowledge which may be taught, examined and rewarded with meaningful qualifications. He believes this approach has little to do with the practice of art because it’s a course of study without an end, for which the exams are the models made and for which the most important skill is the “ability to rely on your own self judgement”.
Craft skill is a commodity that one person can hand on to another whereas art is a much more indistinct thing – more difficult to define – and is not something that can be passed from hand to hand. It is a mysterious quality that is either part of your personality or not. Art is a combination of ego or individuality with a quality of creative imagination. Whether you have art within you can only be resolved by you.
Eric Griffiths’ first lesson is that we must travel our own road accepting responsibility for our art and then learn to make our own evaluations of what is right .
Copies of The Technique of Modelling in Clay are available secondhand from Advanced Book Exchange. I found the one I’m reading at my local library. I’ll continue this next time with his thoughts on craft…