Mila Visser't Hooft

What attracts me to work in clay is that it links me strongly to the past. To know that I work in one of the oldest art forms of human kind, that for millennia people have been working in clay, makes me feel rooted and centered. And it shows in how I work: I throw my pots on a kick wheel and (as often as possible) I fire in wood kilns, using technologies that have not changed significantly for centuries. The forms I choose to make are often anachronistic. My ceramic bottles, for instance, are obsolete in our day, and they hark back to a time when they were used commonly every day. I like piggybanks, because they are traditionally so much a ceramic form, yet in our day of credit cards they are no longer very useful. Because of their obsolescence, I hope my bottles and piggybanks make people reflect on the relationship between our present and our past. It is also this obsolescence that frees them of their functionality, which allows me to explore and experiment with the forms. That same attraction to the past has me intrigued with ritual and religion. Sometimes, I make objects for ritual outright: communion goblets, seder plates, labyrinths, vases for ikebana, to name a few. But more often I make objects that can become part of people's everyday rituals. I cherish the thought that my bowl might become someone's favorite for cereal every morning, or that my tea cup is the one someone reaches for for comfort, or that a set of my dishes might be used to gather together friends for a good meal and conversation. While I am nourished by the past, I am not interested in making pieces that look like old ones. Potters in the past were very much current in their time, and I am part of my present too. Our time is one of individualism and self-expression. And I am, of course, influenced by potters around me. So, in my work I try to maintain a balance between expressing my love of history, tradition, and ritual and making pots that are uniquely mine and current.