I have been making pottery since 2007 – for the first three years only occasionally on some evenings and at weekends, but since then I have been able to give it more of my time. I was first taught to throw by West Marshall and I have also had tuition from a number of other professional potters.
My main goal is to make better pots and explore the possibilities of the ceramic medium. By ‘better’ I mean closer to the elusive perfect combination of beauty and functionality. Beauty for me arises from simple balanced form, subtle and complex surface and relaxed decoration. Like many other potters, my tastes lean towards early Chinese and Japanese pottery, simple European country pottery and studio potters from the oriental, Leach or modernist traditions.
I like ceramic decoration which is ambiguous and allusive – not figurative but abstract, or just hinting at figurative possibilities. A few marks on a surface can convey energy, movement, calm or emotion. Shapes and patterns, without being explicitly representational, can carry our thoughts to places which depend on our own experiences and memories. A surface with subtle complexity can give up its secrets over many viewings – those secrets come partly from the pot and partly from the viewer.
Reduction-fired stoneware is my preferred medium. My focus is on functional forms – vases, bowls, jugs, jars, dishes. Depending on the piece I may use porcelain, white stoneware or a darker stoneware for the body. I have experimented with mark making by pouring, brushing, spraying, sgraffito, rope rolling, faceting and fluting. I also enjoy making different glazes and seeing how they turn out.
Before 2015 most of my work was fired in a gas top-loading kiln, but in April 2015 I fired my new wood-fired kiln (shown on the left) for the first time and most of my recent work has been salt/soda glazed in this kiln. The design of the kiln is derived from the Phoenix Fast Fire kiln developed in the US in the 1970s. In building the kiln I have greatly benefited from the advice of Jeremy Steward at Wobage.
I am a member of the Southern Ceramics Group, chairman of West Forest Potters and am an associate member of the Craft Potters Association.
During the coronavirus lockdown in 2020 I embarked on two new ventures as part of a wider initiative to sustain activity and interaction in West Forest Potters. The first was to make a video of a salt and soda firing of my wood-fired kiln. A link to this video is provided below. The other venture was to start an occasional series of articles, addressed to potters, about some pieces from my collection of old pots. These articles can be found on this website under the tab ‘old pots’.