Ancient and Modern


"Ah, you've chosen one of my 'dancing mugs" said potter Ema Ramanskaite, putting her hand over the top of it and gently rocking it round and round, "when I pour someone a cup of coffee in one of these. they just naturally roll it around under their hand, it's not even a conscious gesture really, but everyone does it!"  I was in Margarites Village high up in the mountains of Northern Crete, the hub of this Greek island's pottery-making industry, and I had fallen in love with a mug.  Ema and I got talking and she explained her influences and inspiration; Eastern European by birth she had come to Crete as an au pair and then became a potter. It sounds a bit random but it doesn't surprise me, I hear stories like this all the time, if you are meant to be a potter it will get you in the end! The beautiful mugs and bowls she makes with their curved bottoms are influenced by the Minoans, and she told me she had spent months in the museum at Heraklion gazing at the wonderful shapes there and then going home to practice and practice until she perfected this difficult design. I had never really thought about my bowls and their own curved bottoms before because that's just the way I naturally make them in my hands, but looking at Ema's work, and her inspiration I couldn't help but feel a connection. When I'm working on my own pieces, feeling my way and smoothing their underneaths, their balance point will suddenly appear and then I know I'm there. Looking at these beautiful contemporary shapes with their ancient heritage, it struck me that nothing is new, everything returns to something that came before, and I find that fascinating and deeply reassuring.

See Ema's beautiful work here: