Robbie Whitehead: The Potter and His Pot

Knead clay, make one churro, then another churro. Fix the shape, rub up lines, put the pot on the kiln, take it out of the kiln. Ever since Robbie Whitehead started working with clay, he has found in this process based on repetition some sort of meditation.
Long-time friend, and managing director of Apartamento magazine, he’s the man behind our terracotta sink, one of our favourite pieces in our Barcelona Creative Studio.
Read his reflections while working on the potter’s wheel.

“Working on a new pot, alone, here, now. The potter becomes his pot. Early in the morning or late at night or escaping during lunch break at work. Half listening to: a podcast, yet another news cycle, Charlie Bones. Ten empty bottles of Vichy Catalan lined up next to the sink. Kneading clay. Self-examination, introspection. Repetition is a form of change. Rubbing out lines, make another churro, add another churro. Making a thing. Make that thing become part of another thing. Let it have no function. Join, build, let the new clay be absorbed into the dryer body. Feel for irregularities. Fix them if you can, accept them if you can’t. Start over if you want. Trust in the you of now. Recycle the clay, never throw it out. Don’t go to the studio for a week. Go every day of the week. Spend hours burnishing a pot with a bent spoon. Take one out of the kiln when it’s still too hot, almost burn your hands. Watch another one collapse because you’re not patient enough to let it dry properly. Buy new tools. Experiment with new clays. Research ancient techniques on YouTube. Wish we bought a bigger kiln. Go get a sandwich especial from the bar on the corner. Don’t give Instagram what it wants. Upload photos without thinking, don’t upload anything at all. Don’t think, just do.”

Photography by Nuria Val

Words by Robbie Whitehead