Dryden Wells – Greetings from China
I am living in Jingdezhen, China, a city that has dominated the porcelain industry for the last 1,000 years. It is really amazing not only to live in a city with such a rich history, but also to see the interesting blends of modern culture and tradition. Both are very much alive….traffic light posts and light poles are made of hand-painted porcelain columns!
As for my job, I have been hired as the Design Studio Manager of the Pottery Workshop. Initially established and still working as an international residency, we have recently been developing another part of the business that will focus on hand-made wares and cast products commissioned by artists or designers. With their being such a large ceramic industry in Jingdezhen, many businesses are not interested in doing limited editions of say 500 or 1,000. So, that is where we fit in.
I came here unclear as to what exactly my job would be, and have found it to be much more than I expected. Of course, having come to China before, I kind of knew what I was getting into. However, I am finding it is a very different experience trying to make it home. It takes a bit longer to settle in. I do think that no matter how long I stay here though; I will continue to be amazed and surprised by people. I don’t think I will ever loose my sensibilities.
Recently, I was invited along with several other artists and professionals from China and around the world to participate in a 3 day Ceramic Conference in Zhijin, China. Located in the Guizhou Province, its unique ceramic tradition is close to disappearing. The city held the conference so that we could see the community and culture, and then discuss how to revitalize this industry. While it was often difficult at times to see the effects of the coal industry in rural China, it was an amazing experience and very enlightening.
I feel very fortunate to be where I am. I am getting the experiences of business and production and I constantly get to work with world-renowned artists on a very personal level. Being here is like an on going daily workshop, and I am getting paid to continue to make and research my work.