Martin Swart | Episode 348
Martin Swart’s studio is situated on Martin’s family farm near Arniston in the beautiful Overberg, Western Cape, South Africa. Martin lives and works from the family farm and produces a large range of porcelain, stoneware, and earthenware handmade pottery which has been thrown on the potter’s wheel, both for in- and outside use.
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How far into the future are you thinking on a regular basis to be able to come up with your plans?
I usually try to think, well my exhibition is in November of next year, so that is a year and half ahead. Also I am planning to go overseas in a year’s time so I am always planning ahead for about a year or a year and a half, trying to get things sorted out.
There has to be a sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are now to want to change things, so how do you live with a sense of happiness and joy in today knowing that things could be better?
With regards to my work and circumstances or just life in general?
Life in general at this point because I am just amazed at how many things you’ve got going on.
I think if you do a lot of things , which I do and enjoy doing, sometimes I would like to maybe be able to have a better rhythm in my studio. I would sometimes end up sitting behind my wheel and then throw two bowls, but then I have to get up and do something else, where I would like to be able to sit behind my wheel and just for a change throw ten bowls maybe, before I have to get up and chase sheep around again or something. But that’s also alright. Sometimes your rhythm gets broken but that’s fine, I get the work done. Sometimes the rhythm isn’t there like I would like it to be. I have to understand there are only 24 hours in a day.
When you are pursuing one of your goals there are always obstacles that get in the way, what motivates you to be a problem solver?
For some reason I have learned like with money, there is no such thing as quick money, unless it’s illegal. So there is no way I’m going to do that. So for some reason I like to go and stand at a figurative mountain and imagine this enormous mountain and then start to ascend this mountain to the summit and to climb it slowly bit by bit. Then once you get there in a very honest way you know that you worked hard to get there. Once you’ve reached the summit and you can look back and say I got here by pure hard work, honestly, and it’s a good feeling. There will always be obstacles along the way. Financially there are always barriers, there might be physical barriers, or technically there might be obstacles, but it’s better to see them as adventures to overcome than to see them as bad obstacles. Rather just see them as problems with solutions.
How important is making lists when it comes to achieving goals?
I make lists but I always lose them. I pin them to things and the wind blows them off, but I make lists. It is important to make lists. But I write them down, I have technology but I write them down the old way. I am a bit of a chip off of the old block so I like to do things the old fashioned way.
Switching gears a little bit, why big pots? You make other pots but why big ones?
When I was in college I got this fascination with these big pots. There was this, I don’t know, this gentle evolution about it. It’s difficult to explain. They are gentle giants and there is something about them. There is sort of a meekness about them. Meekness is like controlled power.
My last question for you: What would be your absolutely perfect day? What would it look like?
On the farm? Just anything?
It is your perfect day. You get to describe it.
Well my perfect day, I can just say this, if anybody asks me now what am I scared of, I would say the first thirty seconds after take off. But I am flying myself. Apart from that, the perfect day is just when things just sort of work out OK, you know? It’s calm and there is peace in the valley and I am just relaxed. What I think to do is, I am a bit driven, and I do too many things and I would plan five things for today, while I only need to do two. My perfect day would be to just finish the two and that would be OK. I can do the other three tomorrow and that would be fine.