Beatrice Wood’s Sweet Perspective on Mistakes

When we reposted a quote and image of the late centenarian ceramic artist Beatrice Wood working at her potter’s wheel, we got one of the biggest reads ever. We assume it was people heartened by her irreverent, UN-agist “I owe it all to art books, chocolate and young men.” 

We’re still resonating with another quote of hers:

My life is full of mistakes. They’re like pebbles that make a good road.

Beatrice Wood working 2

You have only to read Wood’s bio or her New York Times obituary to glean that her “good road” was mighty interesting: she went from wealthy socially conscious family to bohemian actor to “Mama of Dada” in the New York avant-garde, to late-blooming artist who made art until she was 103. You have only to see images of Wood elegantly dressed in a sari and massive jewelry, working barefoot at her wheel to get the gist.

Beatrice Wood Portrait big

We were wondering how we might illustrate “mistakes…like pebbles that make a good road” when we came upon the work of artist Richard Long. As a 22-year-old art student in London, he walked back and forth along a straight line in a grassy field in the English countryside, leaving a track that he then photographed in black and white. A Line Made by Walking (1967) was the first of many remarkable path works he made.

Richard Long

Richard Long

For us, they illustrate Wood’s “mistakes…ike pebbles that make a good road” wonderfully…

road_stone_line Richard Long

Richard Long

…and the many forms those roads can take…

Small_White_Pebble_Circles_Richard Long Long_Tate_Modern_T07160-1

Richard Long


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