some past work
I have been studying and making ceramics for over 40 years and like many British studio potters I was greatly influenced by the cultural fusion of Eastern and Western traditions in the work of Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada and of course the great Lucie Rie but my interest in fine art has led me to develop a more contemporary design and decorative style influenced by both studio and gallery.
I work in stoneware, producing mainly wheel-thrown functional pieces which can be enjoyed in daily use. Work is thrown, often altered and carved and then once fully bone dry (depending on weather conditions and the nature of the piece this may take 3 weeks) is then fired to around 1060ºC, this is known as the bisque firing stage. At this stage the work is now permanently fused but not fully vitrified and is ready to take decoration. Depending on the final result I am aiming for I may already have applied slips and/or oxides to change the surface colour of the pot and its composition in order to influence the final decorative outcome, but once bisqued the art of glazing can begin.
I apply glazes using a variety of techniques, brushing, dipping, sponging and spraying - building up layers of colour, tone and impression. In a sense I'm using clay as a canvas but unlike painting, raw glazes do not appear as they will once fired and glazing techinques take many hours of experimentation and testing until I am finally satisfied. Even then the process is unpredictable, potters often speak of the ‘will of the kiln gods’, but this is what is so appealing about hand crafted ceramics, every piece is unique and whilst a work may be approximated it can never be duplicated.
Living and working in beautiful Teesdale I am endlessly inspired by the colours of the changing seasons and forms of the landscape and much of the influence for my palette (and some of the raw ingredients of my glazing)
comes from my natural surroundings as well as my love of art.
I am however wary of making pretentious claims for what someone else may see in my work, art, once it leaves the artist is I believe, in the eye of the beholder. My aim is to produce work that is engaging, appealing to the eye, comfortable and comforting in use and functional in form.
Once decorated I fire the pots again in an oxidation atmosphere to around 1220ºC. Firing to this temperature fully vitrifies and fuses the clay and glaze producing a durability and functionality that makes for very versatile pieces. The vast majority of my work is made for functional, everyday use and is oven and dishwasher proof and food safe. My pieces can be enjoyed for eating, cooking and for decorative display.
My aim is to produce work that is aesthetically pleasing, tactile and eminently usable -
Art, for everyday.
I'm not sure when exactly it started...
whether it was back when the 5-year old me loved getting down and dirty making mud pies in the garden, or when the teenaged me first put a lump of clay on a potters-wheel and felt the intoxicating, mesmerising pleasure of seeing something emerging from 'nothing' or as the more mature me fell even more deeply in love with the sensuous, meditative, deeply absorbing creativity of earth, glaze and fire and its endless artistic possibility - whenever it was - at some point,
I got 'dirt' in my soul.
Dirt is essentially what clay is and it is the stuff of life - earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust - and back again.
Taking something formless and making something useful, tactile, beautiful and unique
is what has kept me passionate about clay for over 45 years.
I studied ceramics initially at school and then trained further at Nevilles Cross College, Durham. In spite of the encouragement of my tutors to take up ceramics full-time I gave in to parental pressure to get "a proper job", qualifying as a Chartered Public Accountant and developing a successful career in public sector management and as an academic, teaching and examining for my professional body, going on to run my own business and to become a charity CEO before being 'got by God' in 2004 when I trained and became ordained as an Anglican priest and then worked full time as a Vicar.
All the while I kept up my passion for ceramics, doing classes in my spare time and eventually setting up my own mini studio at home. Making pots is a time critical process and raising my lovely children while earning a living meant that ceramics could not really be more than my little bit of guilty 'mucky' pleasure - my fun in a full and fantastic life.
But behind all this evident good fortune was some not so good stuff.
Way back when I started university I began to have difficulty walking and problems with intense spinal pain, it took a while but it was discovered that I had a birth defect causing a break in my spine and in 1979 I had major surgery to fuse my lumbar and sacral spine. I was lucky, the surgery worked and as I've already hinted I went on to live life to the max.
But in late 2010 things took a physical nosedive and long story short, my spinal break had become bad enough again to mess up the rest of my spine, give me severe constant pain and impact my mobility. It was soon obvious that I couldn't work full time anymore and I spent the next two years pretty much off my head on opiates, struggling to find my way through the pain and grief at losing my ministry. Then thanks to the people who love me, my faith and the discovery of Mindfulness for Health I began a slow climb back to wellness.
Clay has been a huge part of finding a new positive way of being and, as I've found less drug-dependent ways of living with pain, I've been able to spend more time re-discovering the 5-year old who loved to get down and dirty.
I make when I'm able and find the utterly absorbing, sensuous nature of clay to be deeply therapeutic.
I use the times when the pain is too much for the physicality of making to process my creative thinking,
seeking always to challenge the boundaries between
craft and art
form and decoration
functional pottery and visual art
my aim is to bring you art - for everyday
I open my studio as part of Teesdale Art Net - see www.teesdaleartnet.org.uk for details
At other times please contact me if you would like to visit the studio.
send me a message using the contact form below
find me on FaceBook & Instagram