Jitka Palmer

‘Story telling and the painted surface’ – a workshop with Jitka Palmer

By Sam Lucas, MA Ceramics student

 Jitka’s workshop, part of the South Wales Potter workshop weekend help at CSAD for their members, students and staff, was a wonderful and immersive experience on many levels and with many layers. She took us on a personal journey from her childhood village in Dolni Vestonice in the Czech Republic and from the origins of the first ceramic sculptural figure. Leading us through her academic education to the discovery of her creative life, triggered by her move and initiation into the city of London. 

 Her visual storytelling enabled her to integrate herself into this new strange world by making those unfamiliar experiences, familiar. Avid in her use of a sketchbook, she began to observe those people around her who were involved in the ordinary occupations of day-to-day existence and created warm and larger than life characters that almost became her extended family. 

 All the while she was describing this world and painting her large vessel with many colours of slip, the characters she depicted – including an ancient man sat around a fire –  began to tell their story. Layer upon layer and one swift, dynamic gesture after the other took us on a journey connecting the inside with the outside, as if one continuous line leading us from tales of our primordial past into today. 

 Jitka created a visual record of an ordinary event but elevated it to significance by assimilating it with tales of her own life and through the act of story telling into our own, reminding us of the rewards of being more observant of those around us.

 This was extremely beneficial to me on many levels – personal, creative and academic. As a group we watched, listened, gasped, laughed, and played; all senses were catered for throughout the day. I was reminded of my own interest in the origins of figurative sculpture the possible purpose of the miniature Venus within the community and reconnecting the past with the present. On returning home i researched the book “The Great Mother” by Erich Naumann that she had suggested, fired my little creation made in the workshop and reminded myself that this was where my own creative journey had begun.