Edmund de Waal: People need to connect with their hands and to make things

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Making things is a positive move that can help people’s mental health and children should be encouraged to do more of it, artist and writer Edmund de Waal has said.

The 57-year-old, a potter for more than 50 years, described being made a CBE for services to the arts as “extraordinarily surprising”.

He collected his honour from the Duke of Cambridge in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Investitures at Buckingham Palace
Edmund de Waal was given his CBE for services to the arts by the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

He and William talked about how “making things and mental health does connect you to the world in an extraordinary way”.

They spoke about throwing pots and “why it is good for you”, Mr de Waal said.

“It was reflecting with him very briefly on the fact that making things is absolutely a core human instinct. It takes you back to being a fully rounded, fully present human being,” he said.

“It may not necessarily be easy but that is not the point. It is a good thing to do.”

Nottingham-born Mr de Waal is a master potter and author of The Hare With Amber Eyes, which won the Costa prize for biography in 2010. The White Road and Letters To Camondo are among his other books.

He said: “I think there is a real mood for people to be in a non-digital world and making things is an an extraordinary way of doing that.

Investitures at Buckingham Palace
Edmund de Waal, with his wife, after he was made a CBE (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“It also takes you back to playing and just trying things out, which I think is fantastic.

“There is a cultural change happening at the moment and it is wonderful to be part of that.”

Mr de Waal added: “Now there is a renaissance in popularity and increasing visibility. People need to connect with their hands, with clay, and to make things.

“It is wonderful but there is still a lot of work to do with schools. Kids aren’t getting their hands into clay and and there is a huge amount of work to connect children into making things.”

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