Thursday 25 November 2010
The director of one of Britain’s largest pottery firms has compared parts of Stoke-On-Trent to Afghanistan’s Helmand Province and has demanded the local council stop the demolition of historic buildings.
Matthew Rice, director of Emma Bridgewater, said that areas of the city, known for its ceramics industry, resemble a wasteland and “disaster zone” comparable to London in the 1950s following World War II.
Referring to city planning as “feckless”, he called on the local council and developers to use historic buildings and former factories during regeneration rather than to knock them down.
The Helmand Polychrome Wares as Skeuomorphs
Polychrome and bichrome wares, mainly found at Shahr-i Sokhta (شهر سوخته, Sistan, Iran) and Mundigak (موندیگک, Kandahar, Afghanistan) across the relative sequences of the 3rd millennium BE may be distinguished from more common wares by the post-firing painting in various colours and by a repetitive system of geometric patterns appearing on the shoulder and the maximum expansion of medium to large-sized restricted vessels. While the precise function of these peculiar vessels is still unknown, the aesthetics of the painted decoration recalls the patterns of stamp seals, as a rule worn in graves by women, and the vessels themselves in the graveyard are preferentially associated with female individuals.
Loredana Mugavero and Massimo Vidale believe that Polychrome jars were actually “skeuomorphs” or ceramic replicas of large baskets or containers woven in vegetal fibres. The analogy is threefold, as it is based upon precise correspondences in the form of the containers, in the technical approach to vessel construction and in the decorative patterns. The two researchers believe that the ceramic techniques and painted decoration were derived from basketry, and not the contrary, not only because basketry in historical terms is obviously much older and perhaps technically less complex, but also because in basketry form, construction and decoration are closely linked by a precise set of technical constraints, whereas in polychrome ceramics the techniques involved are adopted as comparatively free choices. The specific forms of geometric decoration adopted on polychrome pottery did not in the first instance depend upon any material constraint.
Polychrome containers, as far as Loredana Mugavero and Massimo Vidale know, were made at Shahr-i Sokhta in a dozen basic forms, including jars, pots and, more rarely, truncated cone-shaped bowls used as lids. The maximum formal variability was reached in Period II (c. 2750-2500 BE) in correspondence with the peak of formal and graphic elaboration of the more common Buff Ware products. Above figure shows a small basket recently acquired on a free stand in Rome. Although provenance information was not provided, stylistic comparisons suggest it probably comes from Ethiopia or more generally from north-eastern Africa. It shows how natural basket weaving can produce restricted and sub-globular forms, as well as the use of a conical lid technically and formally similar to the body. Massimi Vidale is familiar with a contemporary production of large jar-like baskets in villages not far from Islamabad (Pakistan) whose formal range is rather similar to that of the Polychrome vessels from Shahr-i Sokhta.