Life at the Pottery

  • Photographer
    Sheryllene Escobar
  • Prize
    Honorable Mention

Documenting life at Sagada Pottery, Philippines. Life there is not confined in the making of vessels and art.


Like any afternoon at the pottery, it was quiet and calm. Many of the day’s activities have yet to be completed… then again nothing ever stops there. Aside from brief respites from creative work, the pottery is bustling with various activities. My activities there comprise mostly of wandering around, staying out of the potters’ way… an observer. They engage me in conversations only once in a while, not because we do not like talking to each other, but because there seems to be an unconscious “agreement” that even in an enclosed space like that, we respect each other’s space. In hindsight, we rarely talk about the subject of pottery. Most conversations are about our lives - exchanged confidences about our mini legends and tragedies. Being there was an all-encompassing experience, to say the least. I learned photography through the light I had to get acquainted with (and sometimes struggled with), and I also had the chance to bathe in the grace and lessons of their experiences not only as creative individuals but as humans just being. Daily life at the pottery had its varied supply of shifts, but there is no schedule to follow, no meetings to plan, no routines to adhere to. Theirs is a life of doing and creating. When I am there, I try to do the same. I was told they don’t even notice me sometimes… that I am a quiet worker. It is what I prefer. The photos you see from the pottery show exactly what their activities are, without me telling them what to do. I see myself following them around, yet I am sort of invisible at the same time. What I document are private moments which are revealed to me through the camera. Never meaning to intrude, I keep an acceptable distance from them… detached yet involved too. In some way, they have grown accustomed to my presence as I stayed there longer. The novelty of my moving presence is now somehow diminished and I, like the vessels that have accumulated all over the years, simply exist.

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