I have been a professional ceramic artist since 1988 and, during that time, I have taken my work to ceramic events all over Europe and the USA as well as exhibiting in galleries. So, I am very pleased to now have the opportunity to be involved in “Celebrating Ceramics” from it’s beginning and feel I can bring to the event, my experience of International and UK ceramic events.
I took part in Art in Action for many years and I know how much the event, especially the Ceramics Marquee, was loved by potters and public alike. It is , therefore, very exciting to be able to start a new event that is a first in so many ways, and with the full support of Art in Action.
It will be the first ceramic festival to be held at Waterperry Gardens and the first to be an “artist led” event.
I am sure this event will quickly become the standard of excellence and will establish itself as one of, if not “the” best International event for ceramics.
As a figurative sculptor my approach to making is to try to convey my understanding of a given subject with sensitivity and empathy. A background in Fine Art education gave me a grounding in various media, but it was clay that drew me in, and I am still fascinated and excited by the endless possibilities it offers.
Although Clay is my medium of choice, I do not consider my myself a potter, and so I hope to be able to add to the mix an alternative perspective with a broad and sculptural eye.
Together with my artist husband Anthony Theakston we have juggled exhibiting and raising a family, sustained hugely by exhibiting opportunities presented by events such as this.
I am excited to have been asked to be part of the team to help make ‘Celebrating Ceramics’ a vibrant, creative, inspirational and motivating opportunity for both makers and visitors alike.
I exhibit regularly across the UK and Europe both directly at ceramic events and with gallery representation at many major Art Fairs.
I have always been interested in the history of ceramics – why and how ‘things’ are made of clay.
This interest was extended after I spent several years travelling through Africa working with various tribes and village potters and being intrigued how, with limited technology and basic tools, they were able to get such exquisite, beautiful surfaces. I found the same inherent skills in India, Nepal Japan and New Mexico.
I tried to adopt the ideas picked up from my travels in my own work. By building up layers of textured clay combined with burnishing and polishing of surfaces, I try to achieve opposites of rough and smooth.
While I was at university studying English Language and Literature I found a pottery studio nearby where I taught myself to throw. I had fallen in love with the magic of clay.
Ten years later I was accepted onto the highly regarded post-graduate ceramics course at Goldsmith’s College, University of London from which I graduated with a commendation.
I researched and played a pioneering role in developing soda glazing through my book, “Soda Glazing” published by A & C Black in 1995, the first book ever published on the subject.
All of my work is thrown on a momentum wheel allowing for a slow, organic forming pace with all altering and assembling done on freshly thrown clay. The pots are then slip decorated before being soda vapour glazed in a wood/gas kiln.
I regularly give lectures/demonstrations and exhibit worldwide. My work is in collections in the UK, Europe, Asia and the USA.
I have loved ceramics as an art form for as long as I can recall and my parents bought me my first ‘bowl’ at a fund raising event when I was 16. But it was when I was working in Japan 35 years ago, producing a business documentary, that I began collecting on my frequent trips to Kyoto and Mashiko.
Every time I passed a beautiful piece I couldn’t help but touch it and an antique dealer in Kyoto said ‘that was the sign of a collector’. My crew had to lovingly help carry back all the treasures I had found, on top of our equipment!
When I moved to London from New York, I was asked to be the curator of the Ceramics section of Art in Action, held at Waterperry Gardens. This opportunity was a pure labour of love since we were all volunteers. But during the 26 years that I curated the Ceramics tent, I met and got to know potters (ceramics artists) from all over the UK and Europe.
It was a privilege to call them friends and it was because of these relationships that I again volunteered to help bring a quality ceramics show at Waterperry gardens to the public.
Craft in Focus was launched in 2000 by Rob Chapman, then a Woodturner, now head co-ordinator of the events. Craft in Focus stages nine events across the UK, mostly in the South East, including the UK’s most popular Designer Craft Fair at RHS Garden Wisley.
They are also used to staging solo discipline events, such as the Desire Fairs focussing on Jewellery and Silversmithing. One of the key aspects to their success has been to treat makers, and visitors, with respect and understand the lifestyle the artists lead.
As a former maker, Rob Chapman was able to address what the maker wanted from an event. In addition the selection of the exhibitors has always been key to ensure the makers show flair and originality in their work, and the work they present is always from their own workshops as well as being of the highest quality.