Sunday, April 28, 2013

אסתר הרטוג :חייל על הגג

במשך שלוש שנים שהתה אסתר הרטוג, במאית הולנדית-ישראלית, בקרב קהילת המתנחלים של חברון - בניסיון להבין את מניעיהם ולגלות את אורח חייהם מבפנים. בחברון ישנה קהילה יהודית של כ-800 מתיישבים, המאובטחים ומופרדים על ידי צה"ל מכ-120,000 הפלסטינים החיים בעיר. הרטוג מראיינת כמה מתנחלים מקומיים הפורשים בפניה באדיבות את התוכנית המשיחית של התיישבותם במקום. במקביל היא גם עוקבת אחרי ילדיהם המשוטטים ברחובות ולומדת להכיר את החיילים שהוצבו במקום. ההתבוננות הסבלנית בחיים היהודיים בחברון - ובהתנהלות היומיומית של המשטר הצבאי שמאפשר אותם - חושפת מציאות הזויה, ומצליחה לחדור אל מעבר לייצוגים התקשורתיים המוכרים של מתנחלי חברון.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Lighting a match under the 32 volumes of the Encyclopædia Britannica

In my defence, this was more of a cremation than a burning at the stake. The books were already dead, terminally rotted after years of neglect. If I had committed a crime, it was to let them get into this sorry state, not finally to put them out of their misery Read more...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Champa Pottters

Handmade stoneware pottery made in Vietnam the way it has been done for centuries. Craftmanship and high firing in wood buring tunnel kilns creates these impressive oversized vessels. The kingdom of Champa ( or nagara Campa in Cham and Cambodian inscriptions, ; Chăm Pa in Vietnamese, 占城 Chiêm Thành in Hán Việt and Zhàn chéng in Chinese records) was a Hindu and Buddhist kingdom that controlled what is now Vietnam from approximately the 7th century through to 1832. The Cham people are the successor of this kingdom. They speak Cham, a Malayo-Polynesian language. See more at www.champaceramics.com

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Art of Mandur فن مندور

The man who works in pottery is called fakharani (after the word fokhkhar, meaning pottery). An experienced fakharani knows what shapes are in demand and in which season. He must be able to produce the shape of jars used during birth celebrations, the incense burner over which the mother has to step in subu, the celebration held on the seventh day after the birth of a baby. He can fashion jars that look like horses and roosters. And he can make fruit basins embellished with human faces. Fakharanis often keep the secrets of the trade in the family. To be a fakharani you have to come from a pottery making family. If you remember the old drinking jar, called zir, you’ll see that it has a conic bottom, which means that to keep it upright it has to sit on a metal contraption that is circular at the top. The design allows for better cooling and cleansing of the water, and has been also used by the Greeks and the Romans.
The artist Mohammad Mandur, who works mainly in pottery, says that pottery aesthetics improved remarkably in Roman times, and that Coptic monks modified the motifs to suit their beliefs, as did the Muslims later on. Mandur is a great admirer of Fatimid pottery, especially the pieces given a metallic glaze. He says that pieces that came from the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods were of exquisite quality, but things began to deteriorate under the Ottomans.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The booksellers love books


Alas, second-hand bookshops are closing daily, driven out of business by the combination of a general decline in reading, the internet and that most characteristic of all modern British institutions, the charity shop. Booksellers tell me that 90 per cent of their overheads arise from their shops, and 90 per cent of their sales from the internet. Except for the true antiquarian dealers, whose customers are aficionados of the first state and the misprint on page 287, second-hand bookshops make less and less economic sense.

Second-hand booksellers are not in it for the money, of course: it is probably easier to make a good living on social security. The booksellers love books, though not necessarily their purchasers, and in their way are learned men. When they have been in the trade for many years they know everything about books except, possibly, their content. Possessed of astonishing memories, they say things like “I haven’t seen another copy since 1978”. Some of them seem destined to be mummified among their books like the silverfish, and probably cannot conceive of a better way to die.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Chava (Eva) Samuel (1901-1989), the great mother of Israeli ceramics

A ceramic relief by artist Chava Samuel was found recently during the renovation of Independence Hall on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, the historic building where David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948. The relief had been concealed behind a board for decades.

The piece had presumably been installed in the entrance to the hall in the fall of 1948. The relief features a seven-branched menorah and a Hebrew inscription: "In this building the establishment of the State of Israel was declared on the 5th of Iyyar 5708, 14.5.48."
Samuel, who was born in Essen, Germany in 1904, was one of the pioneers of Israeli ceramics. She came to Israel in 1934 and opened the first ceramics studio of its kind in the Jewish community of Jerusalem. She later opened a workshop in Rishon Letzion as well.
A number of her works were installed in public buildings. These include Zodiac Relief at the Kesem Cinema in Tel Aviv, where the first sessions of the Israeli Knesset were held, and ceramic walls in a number of locations, including one in the Yad Lebanim memorial in Rishon Letzion and another in the cellar of the Carmel Mizrahi winery in the same city, as well as one in the community center of Moshav Sitria. Samuel died in 1989.
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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Outstretched to the future


I grew up in a converted white clapboard church in the center of a small New England town to a family of artists and anthropologists. One side nurtured artistic creation, while the other explored, among other things, the function of art in society. My interest in clay is an intersection of these two sides, art and its function, both holy and humble. For three years, I apprenticed in the workshops of North Carolina potters Matt Jones and Mark Hewitt. Their work combines traditions, from the Anglo-Oriental school of Leach, Hamada, and Cardew to the folk pottery of the south-eastern United States and many places between. In their workshops I learned to love these simple pots; adorned or bare, quiet and strong, they make their place comfortably at the table or hearth and speak to the thousands of years of pots before them.
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