At my school there was no 3D art, so the first time I touched clay was at Great Yarmouth art college on their foundation course, with Barbara Balls. Having left school wanting to write and illustrate historical novels I made a complete about-turn and spent the next three years studying ceramics at Bath Academy of Art, or Corsham, as it was mostly known then.

 

an early piece, made in 2006

an early piece, made in 2006

Clay touched off some deeper practical need, that of making things in a medium which is so receptive and versatile, it can use all of the skills you might have learnt in other media or disciplines – drawing, sculpture, design, printmaking, painting, chemistry, engineering, geology – and combine them, using your intuition, into your own burgeoning ceramic practice. And it is a medium which keeps you humble, there are always new and old things to learn, mistakes to make, fruitful and not so much!

 

2007, I'm getting some good results with this shino

2007, I’m getting some good results with this shino

Although, with huge regret, I was not able to continue with ceramics as a career, what I had learnt allowed me to make a living designing knitwear for forty odd years, and doing this also meant that I could pursue other interests and threads, (such as painting), but in my fifties I came back to ceramics, largely through my friendship with Stephen Parry whom I met when I returned to Norfolk in 2000.

 

2008, the shino again.

2008, the shino again.

Doing a raku workshop with Stephen opened my eyes to the possibility of building a gas kiln for stoneware, and having a workshop in the ramshackle old pig sheds in my garden, and with his help I built a small gas kiln which I still use. He continues to be a generous help and I find potters in general open and unstinting in their advice and willingness to share. It is a wonderful world to be part of.

 

extreme slab-building and my dry (poisonous) barium glaze

2009 extreme slab-building and my dry (poisonous) barium glaze

Returning to pottery I had very little idea of what had been going on in the world of ceramics since I was at college, but I had the resources of a life spent working in the field of textiles, and fine art, and the experience of selling my work abroad, travelling to fashion fairs, meeting designers from all over the world, and this has stood me in good stead, both in terms of influences and concepts and being able to expose my pots to different markets.

 

experimenting with porcelain layers over grogged stoneware

2009, experimenting with porcelain layers over grogged stoneware

 

However making pots again has enabled me to find my deepest roots here in Norfolk, in terms of the living landscape and its archaeology. This has become very important to all the things I do, including photography and writing.

 

a large piece which lives in a collection in Japan

2007, a large piece which lives in a collection in Japan

 

I would say that working with clay again has changed my life and my art/design practice radically, from the bottom up; it has not been a superficial application of design to another medium.

 

esxperimenting with layers of oxide and slip under the pale chun glaze. this is in the same collection in Japan

2014, experimenting with layers of oxide and slip under the pale chun glaze. this is in the same collection in Japan

 

 The nitty gritty of attempting to find my own way of making, shaping, my own shapes, surfaces, combinations of clays, glaze and decoration, obstinately outside the dictates of functional ware, and throwing, though influenced by, and referring to these forms, informs what I do and make.

 

the chun glaze can produce these lovely optical blues

2014, the chun glaze can produce these lovely optical blues

I have settled on this hand built bottle shape in many sizes and proportions

 

winged clematis imprint pearly grey chun bottle

2015, winged clematis imprint pearly grey chun bottle

sometimes adding extra bits, and recently I have got more interested in drawing and painting again,

 

pearly rain clematis impressed bottle

2015, pearly rain clematis impressed bottle

so the pots are taking on a more painterly aspect. This year will see me slowing down on the knitwear front and I hope, finding more outlets for, and making more, pots.