Nic Collins by Doug Fitch

You know how impressed I am with the work that Goldmark is doing with Modern Pots – an exhibition web presence unparalleled by any gallery either side of the Atlantic, excellent choice of potters, beautifully produced monographs in print and online, and well-produced biographical DVD’s. You also know, I am trying to finish up my own book and should not stray one moment from the task at hand. But the mail carrier left a note in the mailbox for me, telling me to come down and pick up a parcel and curious, I hopped in the truck and discovered that a wonderful package of books and dvd’s awaited me from Mike Goldmark.

Of course, disciplined person that I am, I put them away until my manuscript is turned in, or at least the Roman numeral problem is fixed.

Don’t be ridiculous! Of course, I greedily pulled out one monograph after another, popped a DVD into my computer, tried to take it all in at once. First observation: I hope UPNE does as good a production job on the Guy Wolff book as Goldmark does on their books. Observation number two: I hope we are doing as good a job. Joe is without a doubt. His photos are great. And our book is far more text. I hope as good.

So, though I stayed up wait too late, poring through everything, I am going to, not all in sequence, but now and then so I can go back to them, take the collection one book at a time. We will start with the Nic Collins catalog, with an essay by slipware potter Doug Fitch. Matching them is itself a bit of brilliance, because Nic is a serious, high-fire, take- huge-risks wood-fire stoneware man. Doug, who both wood fires and electric fires, works in the slipware tradition at far lower temperatures. Except that they are both good throwers, and can throw pretty big, and they are each a master of the jug form, there is no similarity in their work.

Nic Collins makes jugs, vases, bottles, bowls, platters, and covered and uncovered jars. Subjected to long periods of intense heat, ash and flames, they emerge requiring hours of contemplation to see all the colors, all the effects of the fire. They bear the scars of the seashells he uses to keep them from sticking. They are crusty. They are luminous both. You need to get to know these pots. The more you look, the more you see. You want to touch, to hold, to gaze.

Appropriately, Fitch tells us that Collis and his partner Sabine have built a cob workshop for themselves. Is that not perfect?

The photographs include images of Nic Collins, the enormous kiln he has made, and the pots, both in formal, gallery style shots and in situ in the rural landscape surrounding the studio. In the accompanying DVD, Collins talks about his work and his evolution as a potter. We see him at the wheel and firing his kiln. This is truly—I hesitate to use such a word – a splendid package.