Not coming from a family of artists or makers, I wasn’t exposed to ceramics or clay until I reached foundation. I’ve been working with clay for 13 years if you are to include education, understanding the age old comment of ‘with clay you are always learning’. One year in foundation, three years at University (Wolverhampton), three years with Lisa Hammond (MBE) two of which were as an apprentice and the rest out on my own. It was that first few weeks in foundation that got me hooked, although it wasn’t the touch of the clay or how responsive and malleable it is as a material. It was the problems that arose from working with clay. I could see there where so many issues and problems to solve and understand. I could see opportunities to develop my own techniques in making. I grew up working in my parent’s textile mill, other than driving a forklift truck as a 12 year old, it was the days I spent with my father watching him fix and maintain the old Victorian machines that I loved. Please note, as a family we are not from the Victorian era, just the Mill and the Machines. You can’t just buy new parts, you had to learn how they work and fix them, not replace them, and this is where I believe my attraction to working with clay came from, learning and solving problems.
After an initial trial at Maze Hill Pottery Lisa Hammond asked if I was willing to move to Devon to work as her Apprentice. Maddy Carragher and Phil Rhodes had been developing Kigbeare Manor Farm into studios with a gallery space. During the setup I was introduced to Brian Dickinson. Brian came and spent the best part of a 2 weeks with us at Kigbeare to build the oil fired soda kiln. For the following years Brian advised and guided me through processes from throwing techniques and glaze chemistry to kiln building. I'm very grateful for the time Brian gave me and I cannot thank him enough, it just added to the wealth of knowledge and teachings I was receiving from Lisa.
My apprenticeship started with making mugs and pulling handles, over and over again, repeating the same form and becoming to become as familiar with the process as possible. Not too much time later Lisa was challenging me with new forms and giving me new responsibility's in producing her ware. My time with Lisa taught me so much about life as a potter and the running of a busy functioning pottery. From the simple things of where to order materials and how they change over time depending on where they are sourced, to the timing of the ware in its production as everything is raw glazed. Then down to the process of selling the ware at shows and events. An incredible experience to be lucky enough to be a part of and to have the fantastic support from all at Kigbeare.
I work a lot and have little free time, my weeks revolve around several jobs all of which I enjoy as they feed my interests and excitement for making pots. My current studio space is in Lisa Hammond’s pottery in Greenwich, London, here I have my own gas kiln and have use of Lisa larger soda kilns.
Any time I do have spare is spent volunteering my time as a trustee to Adopt a Potter, working with a team that helps run a charity designed to fund apprenticeships. This has developed and led to the opening of Clay College Stoke both of which aim to help the next generation of potters as a direct response to the closure of so many ceramic departments in university’s over the years.