Reece says: “what I’ve found here, is I’ve found some friendships and I’ve found conversations…”

“I’m the sort of person where if I’m going to work say at six, I’ll start getting anxious about that, even though I know everything I’m doing in that job, and that everybody’s happy with what I’m doing, there’s no problems, I’ll start getting anxious about that about 2.30 in the afternoon, and then there’s a nagging worry all the way that gets bigger and bigger leading up to around 6 o’clock. But I don’t find that here. Why is that? I don’t know. It’s part of the reason why I really like it here because I’m finding it very easy. It’s very comfortable for me. As soon as I walk over that thing, a lot of the stress from my week goes…

I said to my mum the other day … she said “how are you finding the probation?”, I said “mum, you might find this ridiculous, it’s actually, and I mean this, it’s true, it’s actually one of the best things in my life at the minute”. I’m being punished, but my punishment is the one bit of relief I get from the standard every day grind of life. I don’t know many people in this area and I don’t mind that, it’s fine, I can get on with that. I still find a lot of stuff really stressful and what I’ve found here, is I’ve found some friendships and I’ve found conversations. The counselling, I find that really good. It’s brilliant…

There’s a relief and a clarity that I find from the potter’s wheel. All you have to do is just concentrate on that one thing in front of you for a few hours and the time goes like that. It’s a very, very peaceful, hypnotic exercise and I think anybody that’s got any kind of stress, you benefit greatly from that. It’s finding enjoyment and finding it relaxing, that’s going to help…

People here are almost desperate to help each other. To ask for help is often seen as a weakness and learning to allow people to help is interesting. I enjoy that part as much as I do helping other people and watching how they’re doing it and learning more yourself and having this open ability to be able to learn…

When I originally got here, I presumed that I was going to be put to work doing something that I normally did. I just thought I’d be digging holes or building brick walls. My day job is a bricky. I looked at this as a sort of punishment and I was happy to do the punishment. I’d skipped jail. There was a point where I didn’t know if I was going to because of what was going on. I admit what I did was wrong, openly and open-heartedly. I’m here to do some work and do it for free. I didn’t know what this place was, I’d never heard of it. So, I walked through the gates and I saw something that looked a little bit like a hippy commune and I thought “oh, not too bad”…

The second I sat down and started using the wheel, I noticed there was an immediate relaxation. There’s a hypnotic part of it where you’re sat watching the spinning wheel. There’s a part of it which links directly to my drug use, there’s a part of it that stops you from thinking. It’s very present. It’s very in the moment. All you have to do is think about that little lump of clay in front of you…

Part of the reason I started doing drugs is I overthink things to the point of stupidity and I can’t sleep, and it used to keep me up all night and I started doing to try and quieten that part of my mind and I immediately realised that that’s what the wheel does. It settles your mind. It stops all the outside chaos and all you have to care about is that little lump of clay and where it’s going and what you’re doing with it. It’s also a very slow, gentle process. I think if anyone’s having issues with anger, anxiety, the general hecticness of life which they’re struggling to deal with, it’s the perfect thing because all you have to do is just concentrate on that little ball of clay. Everything else goes away and at the end of it, hopefully you have something to show and of course, that makes you feel a little bit better…

This led me to an interesting point. I suddenly realised that I was no longer being punished in a traditional sense. What I was doing wasn’t hard, it wasn’t labourful, it wasn’t cold outside, it wasn’t mundane like working in a charity shop where you just label stuff, it was actually genuinely creative and enjoyable. So, I couldn’t really get my head around that to start with. It’s taken me a few weeks, but I’ve suddenly realised that maybe all probation isn’t punishment and this part of probation, for me, is about learning … hang on, what is it about? I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone, but for me, it’s about learning to deal and work through strong emotions by taking yourself away from those emotions for a little while and doing something that relieves the stress, rather than adding to it…

The highlight, apart from the obvious skill that I’ve learnt from potting, I think I’ll continue going on with that because I really enjoy it, the highlight is the people. The best thing about here is the people. You can take away the pottery, you can take away the woodwork, you can take away everything, and you can just have the people here that care, that genuinely care and don’t judge. Nobody actually wants to know what you did or where you came from, that’s gone, and you’re moving forward from that point. I feel that if more people had that in their lives, they might be better off. I think, for me, the highlight by far, is the people…”

3 thoughts on “Reece says: “what I’ve found here, is I’ve found some friendships and I’ve found conversations…”

  1. Hi Reece, I love what you say about throwing pots. My mother was a potter at Dartington for 65 years, and she would completely agree with you – and so well expressed!
    I came to lunch on Thursday and saw some of the really well made pots on the shelves. great progress . Also like your rather inventive heart bowl; you could patent that, it would sell well!
    best wishes, TG
    ps am sending Chris something i wrote about my mother after she died, which you might enjoy reading.


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