by Pascale Barnes
On a recent trip to Budapest for the NEMO Learning Exchange, I was delighted to take time out to meet one of the very talented potters participating in CRAFTER. Our meeting was organised by Ági Király, a PhD student at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Archaeology Institute who was a participant at the initial international meeting of CRAFTER in Mula, Spain.
Together Ági and I travelled to the home of László Gucsi, a true artisan who first became interested in pottery and replicating ancient pots at the young age of 12, when he discovered his first archaeological pottery sherds and took them to his local museum at Dunaújváros. László is primarily self-taught and for this cooperation project has created some stunning replicas of Bronze Age pottery found from the Füzesabony Culture, Middle Bronze Age in Hungary. Being part of CRAFTER has allowed him not only to recreate some visually and historically important pieces, but it has also allowed him to study each original more closely and focus on the techniques involved in the making process.
The project’s aim in addition to the European cooperation which has facilitated and funded the four potters meeting up and working with different clays and techniques, is to highlight and revive the crafting process and to produce wonderful museum standard pieces. It stands to reason that the Bronze Age techniques and styles vary not only according to potters, but also according to the composition of the clay, such as its elasticity, and lend itself better to certain shapes and burnishing techniques. László indicated that his Füzesabony style of pottery was difficult to realise (both shape and style) using the clay dug in Mula, Spain, for example.
He showed me his workshop and the various natural tools he uses to produce the designs and to burnish, as well as a wonderful selection of vessels in various states of the finished process. He invited me to view the recently released film made as part of CRAFTER entitled ‘In Their Hands’, showing him and the other potters at work in their natural surroundings, elaborating on their processes and the creation of the final pieces. This film, along with the recreated vessels forms part of the CRAFTER exhibition, which has toured in the participating countries of Spain, Germany, Serbia and is now at the fourth and final venue in Debrecen, Hungary from the 15th of October to the 31st of December 2019.
At the end of my visit, László showed me his collection of other vessels that he has reproduced over the years and presented me with one of his re-creations of a Middle Bronze Age hanging pot, a highly burnished vessel with white decorative patterns, which I will cherish. He also presented Ági with a special reproduction vessel which she plans to use for her experiments on prehistoric food fermentation techniques. We both left feeling rather proud and lucky to have spent the afternoon with such a unique person.
You can follow László @ancient.potter on Instagram as well as the other participants of CRAFTER.eu on social media.