Listen to your inner self and your dreams, don’t ignore them. Even if is hard, go on and don’t slight anyone. Don’t turn down any opportunity. Every ocassion is a chance to learn something new and to change something that needs to be changed. You don’t know everything. Be open minded to any piece of advice, idea, opportunity, event or person. Be a good observer, challenge everything and always make your own decision. Even more than that take responsability for your choices.
Imagine these words, said in a warm tone, coming from a meditative voice and who chooses words carefully and wisely, without making eye contact and always slightly leaning the head towards the floor. With some kind of modesty rarely encountered nowadays. He is Andrei Gârba, the craftman who appeared in front of our eyes on a regular saturday and who transformed an usual day into memorable seconds of tranquility and balance.
There they are, on the right side of the workshop, two huge, imposing ovens. On the left side we can see the area where compositions are made and straight ahead we can find several working spots. White and shades of white, the smell of raw ceramics, the perfect order and a silence that protrudes your body. ”Hello, I am Andrei Gârba. Accountant because of my studies, ceramist because of my work experience!” you can hear him from a corner of the room coming from a bohemian mister who shakes my hand in a friendly way. After some arrangements, we install our equipment and each of us takes their own place. Andrei sits down having set several cups in front of him while arranging thoroughly things around him precisely as a surgeon does.
When you watch him from the distance, while he is working, time gains other dimensions. The workshop is slowly flooded by an inner peace, only as a true man in his true sense can gather in his soul. You could say that we feel more balanced because of his energy while he completely ignores the cameras that photograph and film him and as well as my pen that writes non-stop in the notebook.
„I started at 14, at the age when parents are an example to you so you start to imitate them. My father worked in ceramics, and in my free time I worked for him. Then I learned…I liked it and I began to realise the potential that I would have by following this path. I started from scratch, without having anything but evergy, motivation and creativity. What I did I went for quality, from one order I would get another order, another client and our business grew.”
I ask him about his first and dearest ceramics related memories and he turns around the opposite corner, as he would have had the wish to hide a smile that appeared spontaneously. He got driven by his imagination more than words can express, his facial expression reveals his inner emotions that are brought to light: „We improvised everything, we worked what we enjoyed and in an unimaginable atmosphere.”
I go further on the memories path and ask him if he chose the way or the way chose him: „ You are the way. If you have discovered your inner self, then you can discover even more and also the solutions that help you. You got to persevere and know yourself. I don’t do something because I want to do something, I do it because I feel I have to. There is no logic. Will does not come rationally, it comes from a feeling. The logic things appear afterwards.”
He further speaks about creativity and opportunities. About what it means to believe in the potential of every single thing that comes in your way. „Things somehow come to you when you need them.” adds while he arranges thoroughly the cups taken out from the molds.
The success of a craft is hard to be achieved and what is more is hard to be defined. For Andrei, the success is a personal satisfaction, a joy returned from the client. In his craft there is a moment when everything becomes specialized and technical so there is a high risk to enter a routine. Then the gratitude comes from the other part: the partner who is impressed and who appreciates what he did.
The noon light follows our conversation’s steps, adding a new light to the words that float in the workshop. Andrei continues to organize things in his own meticulously way. Piece by piece a shape appears to be and it seems like we wouldn’t like to break the silence. He helps us by saying: ”I have the fortune to work with very experienced people. Each of us has his own specialty, we are 6 colleagues and our work is collaborative: one pours, the other chisels, another burns and decorates. We don’t have to tell each other what it needs to be done, we simply know. On many occasions ceramic artists come to us with technical dilemmas that we try to solve. I don’t believe in competition, in its contemporary meaning. I find it pleasant to share our experience.”
The world of this craft and the technical problems which may occur during production, as he demonstratively shows us the final works, we remember the things that distract us from our way: ”The main obstacle was the financial part, when it come to the financial security, you have to think, to analyze.”
Things appear a lot easier when it comes to technical challenges. Most of the orders are from technical porcelain category – specialized pieces that are complex and require a few deviation from standard concepts- the workshop is specialized in components for electrical installations.
For Andrei, the word ”challenge” means accepting projects that in the moment of assuming them could be out of their expertise. In other words ”The industry has its limitations, you cannot do anything. But every time when a difficult project appeared, I said I would do it and I learned to, I tried. Maybe a product wasn’t successful at first, but we wouldn’t given up until it turned out how we wanted it to be.”
I asked him why does he wear a t-shirt printed out with „Romania” and immediately after that I had the sensation I had lighten up a fire. That in his eyes I could see two sparks (a different look from the usual balanced look when he talked about ceramics): ”Romania deserves much more than what has right now. The people who are capable of changing Romania are the ones who love it and respect its traditions, who are proud to achieve something and that particular something is Romanian, made in Romania.”
He hasn’t lost faith in Romania because he is convinced that our country has a lot to offer. He says confidently and firmly that he loves this place and that he sees the potential: ”When I think about something, first I think about its potential. That banal thing can actually be an inspiration for many. A piece of rock is for you a piece of rock, but a piece of rock for Brâncuși is The Gate of kissing.”
The dawn protrudes through the workshop and brings silence between our conversations. If I could choose an expression from those that I’ve heard to summarize our discussion and time spent together with Andrei, I would say: ”For me it is an inner calling and there are no answers, just feelings.” Andrei’s story leaves deep traces in our souls and we might come back to it time after time.
Story by: Alexandra Crăciun