The #100daysofmugs project was a project undertaken by Adrian 'Charlie' Smith in response to the #100dayproject created by Elle Luna & The Great Discontent. The whole project was about the journey of process, exploring and creating something new day in and day out.
"The #100dayproject is a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal. For the 100-Day Project, it’s not about fetishizing finished products—it’s about the process" - Elle Luna.
Being passionate about ceramics I was instantly drawn to the idea of creating a ceramic object each day for the project. I wanted to focus on one object and see what it would be like to do that same item 100 times without repeating the design. Before the project my work was primarily focused around vases and some functional pieces. However with the 100 day project I decided to focus on something new, which happened to be mugs. I had always been intrigued by the mug and the beauty it can present.
The process of ceramics can be quite daunting. I remember when I first started ceramics I quickly learnt that art of ceramics is about letting go, you can never be too attached to the objects you create as there are so many elements in ceramics that you don’t have control over.
At the start of the project I remember thinking how daunting it could be to make a hundred different mugs, but as soon as I started the project that uncertainty soon vanished. Creating a hundred of anything can be challenging enough, but there’s something about creating a hundred objects that you’re truly passionate about enticing. It’s that passion and drive that keeps you motivated to create something new day in and day out.
I approached each piece by thinking about how I felt in that moment, paying homage to my favourite artist Jean Michel Basquiat who once said “I don't think about art when I'm working. I try to think about life.” Further inspiration was drawn from many sources, in particular my travels abroad to Turkey and Japan. Blue was the colour of choice for the project, an ode to the beautiful mosques, tiles and jewellery, I have encountered on my travels. I also gained much of my inspiration from nature. These simple forms are reflected in the textures and shapes of the mugs I created. You can see in many of the pieces there has been a clear exploration of shape, form and function as some of the pieces don’t necessarily represent a conventional mug.
After completing enough mugs I would load them up in my 1964 VW Beetle and transport them 30km to my local pottery studio to get them fired. It was on this journey I was the most terrified. Being in a 60 year old car transporting bone dry work when they’re at their most fragile isn't ideal. But at the end of the project only 2 handles didn't make it. Both were knocked off during transport in their raw state. A couple of other mugs came out of the kiln with superficial cracks. Instead of trying to hide the flaws, I applied the Japanese art of kintsugi to embrace the imperfections. Kintsugi can relate to the Japanese philosophy of "no mind" which encompasses the concepts of non-attachment, acceptance of change and fate as aspects of human life.
At the end of the 100 days I had 100 mugs sitting on my dining room table. Initially I had no plan on doing anything with them, as the whole project was just about the process of creating. However after being in contact with the local gallery Artisan, they were more than happy to display the work in one of their windows. The mugs are currently on display and available at Artisan 381 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, Qld, Australia, 4006.
Photos by Michelle Smith