“When I make something, I hear it”


My husband thinks true artists are necessarily a little odd, fundamentally different than the rest of us who schlep through life thinking about what to cook for dinner, who is going to do something about the construction-related traffic delays, and wondering, shouldn’t I really be exercising more?

He might be right, and isn’t the world a better place for it? That’s how I felt when I read a recent story in the New York Times about the ceramicist, Edmund de Waal. Mr. de Waal is better known (in my circle, at least) as the author of The Hare with Amber Eyes, a family memoir, and a favorite of my book club. He is also, as declared by the New York Times, “a celebrated potter, known for installations of impeccably made vessels in soft shades of celadon or white, many of them permanently displayed in places like the Victoria and Albert Museum.”

In the article about Mr. De Waal’s first upcoming exhibit in the U.S., I was struck by his statement that his work is “the language of sculpture, it’s about … poetry and words and the spaces between words and sounds. When I make something, I hear it.” The marriage of language and art, object and space in his statement makes me swoon.

He also seems to have translated the experience, the trance, the rapture of making something into words: “when I make something I hear it.” Is this is the altered state we all seek when taking on a creative project? I cringe to liken needlework, pinterest projects to the sublime work of Mr. De Waal, yet I believe creative aspirations have a common root. Some people, like Mr. DeWaal, are just more talented, more ambitious, more fully developed than the rest of us.

So, yes, my husband is probably right – true artists are fundamentally different than the rest of us because they live more fully in a creative, connected state of mind – that altered world where you can hear it, when you make something.


* images from Edmund de Waal’s website.

4 thoughts on ““When I make something, I hear it”

  1. thank you not only for a good book club suggestion, but for the excellent book idea for my brother’s birthday! He loves pottery and is very familiar with those from NC, but I don’t know if he knows a lot about any other ceramacists.


    1. Kate, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed – its a great book, but… it doesn’t really have anything to do with ceramics – its about his grandmother’s extended family as seen through a set of japanese netsuke (carved wood and ivory figures). Sounds weird but it is a good read.


  2. I think it is accurate statement to say we can hear what we make. I feel that when I’m working of a project and inspiration strikes for what my next move would be. Beautiful post Elizabeth.


    1. Glad to knwo I’m not the only one who can relate to that statement! And you’re right – when inspiration strikes for your next move – is exactly that feeling!


I'd be delighted to hear what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s