Dr Bill Cotching - Soil Management in Tasmania

Soil management and research, Tasmania, Australia

Pit fired ceramics

My soil science career over four decades has given me a deep understanding of the landscape I live in, the soils and rocks beneath our feet, and of the rivers that flow through them. My pottery is an extension of my keen interest in the earth.

The elements of earth and fire are combined to reveal a unique fusion manifest in each pot. The beauty of the hand-made pot lies in its imperfection that naturally develops with slightly irregular forms as I use the traditional techniques of pinching and coil work. Some pots are burnished by hand using a smooth beach stone to give a full lustre to the finished pot.

Locally sourced seaweed and sawdust plus salt crystals are brought together in the ancient method of pit firing using Tasmanian plantation hardwood to generate the necessary heat.

 

The intensity of the fire within the pit is uncontrolled and this gives rise to the highly variable patterns, colours and effects on the surface of each pot. The process is about acceptance rather than control. Look deeply for the minute details that give each pot its character; explore it with your hands. You don’t have to understand why you’re drawn to it, but you do have to accept it as it is.

Watch my pit firing video

Pots and things