Living by the motto ‘ANARCHY IS COOL’, ceramicist and anarchist Carrie Reichardt is more than just a potter with a wicked tongue.
With rebellion and riots flooding our newspapers and TV screens, it’s no surprise that anarchy has risen amongst us Britons. Through her upcycled crockery Carrie exposes the muted truth of the riot police and The Royal Family. Her 14-year-old daughter is already following in her rebellious mother’s footsteps (taking centre-stage in a recent ‘Kettling’ debate in parliament). With her magnificent mosaic masterpieces and cracking ceramic creations, Reichardt exposes the ironic beauty within anarchism. To mark the Royal Wedding, Carrie hosted an Anarchist Street Party, resurrecting what was once seen as treason but has since been renounced as freedom. After the event i-D pulled up a pew with anti-royalist Reichardt and set the world to right.
How far back do you and anarchy go? I believe anarchy is a state of mind but I have really only identified myself as an anarchist since my involvement in writing to prisoners on death row – so about ten to twelve years. I feel that if you truly understand how the prison system operates, then anarchy is the only political solution.
Anarchy often has very negative connotations, how do you feel anarchy, or the dissolution of any political system can serve to help in this case? The ruling classes have corrupted the very word anarchy; it has become synonymous with chaos and disorder. The state has a vested interest in saying that any radical movement is a threat to the fabrics of society and vilifying those who promote it, but I think it’s important to define what anarchy actually is. Personally I think the following quote best describes my view:
“While the popular understanding of anarchism is of a violent, anti-state movement, anarchism is a much more subtle and nuanced tradition than a simple opposition to government power. Anarchists oppose the idea that power and domination are necessary for society and instead advocates more co-operative, anti-hierarchical forms of social, political and economic organisation.” L.Susan Brown
Let me give an example, one can expect to go to prison if caught not paying their individual taxes, but as I understand it yet corporations can avoid much of theirs by loop-holes in the law. One is called tax evasion, the other is tax avoidance.
Do you pay your taxes? I’m quite proud of the fact that I have never earned enough to actually pay any tax! I spend all my money on art materials. In fact since leaving art college in 1991, I’ve never even earned enough to pay back my student loan. I swore at the time I would not pay it on principle and twenty years later I still haven’t paid a penny!
So is your use of ceramics an ironic statement? Although I had trained in sculpture, from the late 90s I had started to work in mosaics. I fell in love with ceramics and for a time was attending college three days a week. I have really specialised in the printing of images onto clay and over the years I’ve amassed a huge collection of vintage ceramic transfers. I believe humans have an innate attraction to ceramics through our desire to connect with Mother Earth and nature. I love using ceramics because you can get away with so much more, people can appreciate the labour of love and the skill involved in making it. I try to upcycle wherever possible and I think it is great to be able to bring old crockery back into use and give it value once more.
Anarchy and rebellion has more recently become a ‘trend’ amongst the younger generation, is the increasing popularity of anarchist themed ceramics to blame at all? I don’t personally think that art can ever be ‘blamed’ for creating actions in others. I see my work as a reflection of the society we live in, surely one of the purposes of art should be to make some kind of social comment. The current rebellion is a natural response to the present situation we find ourselves living in. The Internet has allowed us to discover far more information than some might wish us to and many are now questioning the power structures that rule our lives.
What is the future for anarchy and anarchists? I’m sure in two years or so we will be voting for our first anarchist MP! Obviously I am joking here…. Hopefully as more people become aware of what anarchy actually means they will embrace its core values: freedom and justice for all. I think you have to see the struggle for a better world on a long timescale. A couple of hundred years ago we still had slave ships, and just over a hundred years ago women could not vote! At the time it seemed that it would be impossible for this to change, but now it seems ridiculous it was ever this way. Hopefully in 100 years time, people will look back in the same way we do now, if not I think we will just see the destruction of our planet. But I am hopeful, I believe Mother Earth will eventually show who’s boss and make things happen that force us all to radically alter the way we live our lives.
Images courtesy of Carrie Reichardt