The Finnish ceramic artist has ended up
on the pathologist's table. Is he dead? What was the cause of death? But
the body is not cold! Maybe we should give him artificial respiration.
Or does his body still have an inner force that will bring him back to
life? He is in the psychologist's consulting room, undergoing a lengthy
course of analysis. Why this despair? Why is he so weary of life? Is it
because of his age, or does the reason date right back to his childhood?
He does not know, he is searching for himself.
The environments in which ceramicists operate are
in a state of change. The contents of ceramics and the professional identity
of the ceramicist are undergoing a transition in which the former theories
and practices are, unwittingly, in danger of being trodden underfoot by
the general structural trends. Since 1990 I have, as an assistant at the
Department of Ceramic and Glass Design, been delving into the history of
Finnish ceramic art and the background to the identity crisis of the 1980s.
My aim is to bring to light the ideals, attitudes and concepts which mould
the professional image of the Finnish ceramicist and the contents and objectives
of his work.
Within a frame of reference examining the interaction
between action, consciousness and structure I am seeking and identifying
the professional image of the Finnish ceramicist and the substance of his
profession. I am trying to determine the features that have over the past
three decades influenced the scope of the ceramicist and his professional
development, thereby observing the changes in the nature of his work. From
the mythical dimension I am trying to extract the unorganised elements
that give rise to stereotypes.
The research disposition is determined by postmodern
discourse and a structural-rationalistic approach. The philosophy and psychology
of action, in the form of pragmatism and symbolic interactionism, provide
the theoretical basis for my studies. The interpretation is founded on
the methods of discourse analysis. In addition to theoretical literature,
the research material consists of publications and articles on Finnish
ceramics and the ceramicist and the dissertations and theses of the Department
of Ceramic and Glass Design at the University of Art and Design, Helsinki.
These are supplemented by interviews with ceramicists.
The results will be published in my licentiate
thesis scheduled for completion at the end of 1995, in which I shall be
crystallising the main paradigms behind the contemporary ceramicist and
myths as the manifestations of these paradigms. I shall also be trying
to identify the various elements introduced into the professional image
by the modern and postmodern operating environment and to interpret their
effect on the ceramicist's intention.