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TH: Well, I'm somehow less physically engaged by this pot than certain other pots I can think of. I've always wondered why proper potters, people like Colin Pearson and Michael Cardew, really hated Hans Coper's pots. I think it was because they seemed [rather] cold and that they had no relationship much to the history of ceramics, that in fact these are probably as sculptural as you can get and yet retain a vessel shape, or vessel form. And there's a slightly artificial way in which the two parts are muted together, which is aceramic somehow. They're quite aceramic - I mean you can see that Brancusi was obviously a great inspiration to Hans Coper. And I think he talks about certain very early pre-dynastic Egyptian pots. And this is the sort [of pot where] I think somebody said 'Make a young girl blush', there's something slightly physical about them, you know, this vessely part of the pot. But actually having it here in my hands and being able to touch it, is a little bit disappointing. So I think you can divide pots into pots you desperately want to touch and some ones you don't. I don't know where that takes us, but it's possibly true that Hans Coper pots and Lucie Rie pots take you in that way less than, say, a pot by Bernard Leach.
MP: Bill Newland said in an interview, where he talked about Hans Coper and Lucie Rie, that he felt that they were representative of a European hardness that English people find difficult to relate to. He mentioned their accusation of them being cold.
TH: It is funny how you do feel that about inanimate objects, that they can be warm or hard and cold, and I heard people talk about the difference between Korean pots and Chinese pots, [in] that Chinese pots are hard and Korean pots are soft. And that's really by virtue of the fact that Korea's economy went into a dreadful decline from about the 16th century onwards, so they were technically less advanced than Chinese potters. [video clip starts] I think he came here virtually as a schoolboy, but I think he had plans to train as an engineer, and these are beautifully engineered. And I think they work wonderfully on a big scale, like the great candlesticks in Coventry Cathedral, which are engineered out of several parts. And I can see why people want to have a Hans Coper pot. One can see them in a certain sort of interior full of other kinds of iconic objects. You can see it beside an African sculpture. There'd be a row of things that would hang together aesthetically. So I'm impressed by it, but I'm not moved or touched in quite the way I expected I would be. [video clip ends]
MP: It's strange, do you think the way it looks when you handle it, [does] it feel how you expected it to feel? Because it's got that very thin rim and black interior, makes it look very fragile, almost like an ostrich egg.
TH: Yes, and then a very stout. Well, it's like a plinth really, isn't it? It's all one, I thought, I'm trying to think how it's made now, which is rather boring of me.
MP: I imagine it's very much turned
TH: Yes, I'm just ... I mean, this was made first, they were [made] separately and muted together. One of the things that would upset a figure like Cardew is that there's a kind of artificiality about bringing two pieces, bringing these two bits together and looting them together like that. And I think in some of them where the upper part comes to a very sharp point, Coper was quite happy to use a knitting needle that went up inside to keep the things stable. So, again [it's] a rather aceramic thing to do. No, I'm full of admiration, but I'm surprisingly remote from [it]. I suppose there's a lot of so-called sculptural pottery now which is completely aceramic, and this really belongs with that kind of ceramic activity. It's just that the pots we've looked at so far have all been, in different ways, so enmeshed in ceramic traditions, that this comes as a bit of a shock.