The Power of Our Own Story – Pottery and PerspectiveFebruary 16, 2021

This is the first of a series of dialogues between members of our community, their significant others and photo Journalist, Chris Beck who was a writer on Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope. May these stories inspire you.

Actor, Darcy Kent and his father Shane, a potter, have enjoyed a creative bond from the moment Darcy understood conversation.

Sitting across from each other on a large dusty worktable in Shane’s studio, lined with pots and bowls, the father and son show a warm and thoughtful connection. 

With little prodding they swap thoughts and ideas built on shared experiences and curiosity. Shane sits straight-backed confidently while Darcy leans forward, head down, in contemplation of his father’s reminiscence.

“I remember driving back from a beach holiday when Darcy was a pre-schooler, after spending a day in the surf, and he said to me, ‘I realised today that the child was in you, and he would never ever go away,’” Shane says.

Darcy’s work is partly founded in his empathy with his father’s philosophy as an artist. The accomplished actor studied at 16th Street and received a Masters from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, years after his father sought out learning from Japanese masters.

As a young student Shane immersed himself in the pottery methods in Japan, which has an unbroken, centuries-old tradition. His exposure to Japanese techniques, their ways of approaching art and its relationship to culture have been fundamental to his development.

“This was a very different way of thinking,” Shane says, “I sat beside the teacher and learned to make simple teacups and bowls in his manner. The learning came through observation and deep immersion, mostly unconscious information through the body.”

Darcy remembers at a very early age his father talking about big concepts like the nature of consciousness or the importance of art.

It was like the background noise of my childhood, Darcy says, “I had a sense that Dad had gone really deep into the study of his craft, going overseas to immerse himself as part of that.”

Shane also conveyed to his son, through his experience and the philosophy it nurtured, that the responsibility for learning lies with the artist to find the best teachers. 

“It’s through deep learning that you’re ultimately able to play (through craft) with the freedom of a child again, find joy and delight in new discoveries, and be of real service to your culture.”

Darcy chips in: “That’s why I sought out 16th Street. There was a great respect for the lineage and tradition of the art form, and I got a broader perspective on the world and the role of my craft in culture as a result.” 

As Darcy developed his creativity through childhood and his teenage years, he understood art as a way to engage and discover the world in a meaningful and playful way. He appreciates the similarities between his father throwing a pot and him acting on stage.

“You can prepare and consider what you are about to do, following a form that is similar each time you do it, but in the execution you have to let go and flow with the thing through to its end point… if you try and exert too much control it will collapse.”

Chris Beck