NB: Well, I take it it's thrown and assembled, but you wouldn't be able to tell from looking at the object. It could have been made any way, couldn't it really? And again this kind of pastiche of Picasso, yes, it was good to have a different viewpoint from the Leach and Staite-Murray at the time. Was it the 1950s?
NB: 1954. But again, go back to the Picasso. I know he didn't make those pieces in clay, he had his assistants to make them, but for me, for it to be thrown and put together, then I think it should speak about the process of being thrown and put together. I'm thinking of that Susan Halls piece [in the V&A] - is it the dog piece that you've got on? - that's [a] thrown and assembled piece. It speaks of throwing and it speaks about assembling.
[This] piece just is again dead clay, it's just overworked clay. It doesn't retain any sense of any spontaneity in the piece, and even the brush marks ... again the saving grace about some of the Picasso pieces is that kind of vigour with the painting. And again you've got this timid decoration on there. There's no kind of expression there. My mother used to have this yak that sat on the fireplace, and it was like one of those hairy giftware yaks with a wooden horn; now that's got more of an aesthetic to it than this piece. It's a difficulty, really, in not having the control of picking these objects because you are governed. It's my worst nightmare I think.
MP: Do you think it's bull-like?
NB: Well, I just can't see the point in it really. I mean, were they nicknamed the evening, not the educational institute group or the Institute of Education group ...
MP: Yeah, Bill Newland worked at the Institute of Education.
NB: Well it's the epitomy of evening class Institute for me, this piece. Sorry to be blunt with it but it doesn't... It could have been made in any other material other than clay. It's got no kind of clay aesthetic to it at all.
MP: Do you not think the tin-glazed ...
NB: I don't even think that's exciting enough to comment on. Go [and] have a look at some of that Renaissance tin-glaze and the quality of that, and the painting within that, the vigour, the kind of spontaneity within that. For me it doesn't have any of that. And these are things which I'm drawn to on a very personal level, which I suppose spur me on in terms of making. None of these objects so far have given me that instinct to want to go away to carry anything from the objects we've seen and to instill in what I do as a maker.
MP: I think that's ...
NB: I think going back to this piece, [video clip starts] I think part of it's not striking any kind of chords with me as a maker is that it sits halfway house between the industrial product and a thrown, expressive product. Now I'm not saying that that stuff in the middle doesn't have a value, it [just] doesn't have a value sometimes, and this is for me an example of it not having a value sometimes. Just going back to the industrially produced pieces there's a series of bulls by Arnold Machin - I'm sure there are pieces in the collection [at the V&A]. Now those, for me, again they talk about method of production, they are slip-cast objects, they're geared towards that method. They're decorated by decal or hand painted. The process fits the outcome. Now this for me doesn't really do the same thing. [video clip ends] And again I don't know whether ... did he see any Arnold Machin things before he started making these things, because ... are the Arnold Machin pieces mid-1940s?
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