The Making of The Artist’s House Platter series

by charkol

This is a closeup of the house in progress. I started with slab work and shaped a platter-house. I made brick-like prints on the outside and then hearts and flowers as wallpaper for the interior. However, the roof was really problematic. Then I suddenly had the idea of a heart tile. Once I started making the heart tiles and tiling the roof, I knew the whole piece was going to pop. After that, I made the heart and I started talking to my pottery mates about the door. I was really concerned initially that The Artist’s House logo had no door! It really bothered me as I have a husband and children and what would that really mean if I made a house with no door? Thankfully, I saw that the heart was the door – how beautiful is that. The heart is the door. My pottery mates were all saying, “We see that, we see that already. We don’t need the door!” Well, I still made a door, and with a knob, just in case one doesn’t see or one forgets.

Next is the window. Belinda, my sister-in-law, the architect, was sitting right in front of me. It was hilarious; she kept coaching me how to make a window. But I really couldn’t figure what she was saying as prior to this, I really haven’t looked too carefully at a window. And so I translated this childhood abstraction of a square with a cross to signifiy window into a window-bowl with a handle. It actually looks like a basket. I am really starting to like my window-basket, so now I’m thinking of expanding this to be fruit baskets for the harvest in the edible garden.

Then the tree. It’s Stanley Greenspan‘s Learning Tree! When I first read his book in early 2012, The Growth of Mind (Greenspan, S.T. and B.L. Benderly, The growth of the mind: And the endangered origins of intelligence. 1997, Massachusettes: Perseus Books.), I had felt such a deep sense of loss when I discovered he had only passed on recently. His lifework was beyond incredible. It is life-changing when one is truly able to grasp and receive Stanley Greenspan’s lifework. In The Learning Tree (2010. The Learning Tree: Overcoming Learning Disabilities From the Ground Up with Nancy Thorndike Greenspan) he has brought together several of his work and this is his final work. Here, he has expanded the 6 emotional developmental milestones to nine, the final being the milestone of reflective thinking.

“Support your child to climb the developmental ladder,” I can hear DanaKae Bonahoom, my parenting guide, who runs a fully inclusive school in California USA, calling out to me every time I feel like giving up. I hold this vision in my heart because it allows me to see the next rung and the next rung and the next. There were so many therapies that we journeyed through -physio therapy (PT), speech & language therapy (SLT), auditory-verbal therapy (AVT), mediated learning experience (MLE), occupational therapy (OT) . Team Keith is excellent heart people but something was still missing. The therapies were in discrete pieces, much like how education is today – you go for Math, Science, English, Geography, then PE – but where is the link? It was finding that link that made me so exasperated, so dissatisfied and by the time Keith was 2 and a half years old, he was over-therapied. He was throwing things, (at the therapists, actually), and no one had said to me, he was angry. Everyone called it a behaviour, or some would try and guess at sensory, and I was refusing to do anything until I was sure what it the root cause we’re addressing – is it neurological, is it sensory, is it developmental, and if it’s behaviour – I want to know why. Then, DanaKae came into our lives. Slowly, over a period of 3 years. She taught me how to watch his gesture, his every facial expression, his every move and feel his heart; watch when his body slumps, watch when his eyes shine. She pointed out to me that Keith already has emotional ideation – that’s level 4! And all this time, I was thinking, we’ve got a lot of catch-up to do, or that he was lost, or this or that. So, I’ve learnt to acknowledge this in Keith- “I’m so mad!” – and then we had to reset his limits as his throwing, pinching, tipping, toppling had become habituated and a concern in school and in community. And when we put it all together, Keith clicked together – as a whole being. Or rather, he has always been a whole being, but my parenting approach clicked. My relationship with him has deepened so much more now, and we’re connected because I get him now. It isn’t so much about what he can or cannot do – he does have a whole life to practise and gain mastery in skills, but it is about this developmental milestones – the emotional developmental milestones – that makes him and me, happy. And complete.

“This ability to build bridges between ideas on an emotional level underlies all future logical thought. More abstract logic and cause-and-effect thinking builds on this fundamental cause-and-effect thinking. In fact, emotional thinking is the foundation for all future thinking [4] (p. 119).” – Brazelton, T.B. and S.T. Greenspan, The irreducible needs of children: What ever child must have to grow, learn, and flourish. 2000, Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing.

Just as the class was ending, I quickly finished the piece with the bowls. These are the fruits of the tree. Giving back. I’ve realised, I can’t be complete, without completing the journey of service. I look forward to learning and deepening this new chapter in, with and through The Artist’s House.