Sometimes it’s easy to wonder if all the time we put into reclaiming scrap materials is worth it, but like much of what we do, we can’t help ourselves. Seeing something potentially useful being chucked is (to me personally) almost painful – not only would we not have the relative wealth of materials we as an organisation enjoy, but if we’re to survive into the future we must get better as a species, at carefully and cleverly repairing, re-using and reclaiming materials from waste streams.
This belief is evident in our aesthetic, which developed alongside the growing knowledge of the necessity of embracing waste streams as a rich source of material. It combines with an approach to material reality evident in our building – derelict when we moved in, and only slowly and carefully improved as we could manage, allowing for a considerate approach, where spaces are modified to uses as they emerge.
We actively rebel against the dominant aesthetic drivers which impel so many to follow a respectability politics built around unnecessary neatness – the ingrained idea that only new things are good, and signs of wear are signs of neglect. Our building, our ceramics, our selves, are collages of new and old, and seeking to pretend otherwise would be damaging and deceitful.
As an organisation we try and live by this, and it means spending a long time collecting, cleaning, sorting and storing things from interesting ceramics, through art materials, all the way up to heavy duty building materials. If we’re serious about closing material loops and reducing our reliance on extractive industries, and saving the ecosystem as we know it, we need to re-shape society around these practices.
Our new Ephemeroptera cup and saucer set, designed by CJ, is another embodiment of these principles. The saucers were bought as part of a job lot from auction 20 years ago, and the cups from a clearance sale. The edition size of 86 is because that is how many saucers we have. The ceramics have been combined with vintage butterflies and brand new print to bring them back to life, as something both old and new, looking back, but very much about the now, and how we act going into the future.