My Journey so far
I started out as a dancer but when I reached thirty, my poor over used body started to complain so I had to stop. I started teaching dance classes and aerobics which was a nice transition as I was quite comfortable performing and very comfortable in studios, where I had spent a lot of my time when training as a dancer.
After several years of teaching too many dance and aerobic classes my body finally said no. This put paid to any more dancing. It’s a bit like losing a really close friend when you have to stop. There was a big hole inside me that was getting bigger. It dawned on me what it was as I started hankering after art galleries. It was that artistic outlet that dancing and choreographing my classes had fulfilled.
I started to look round for a ‘dancing replacement’ which is when I met Bruce Chivers, a great Devon potter, in his Chagford gallery. I had always liked and wanted to learn pottery but had always been too busy dancing and bringing up children. Now was my opportunity and I started classes with Bruce.
Pottery has so much in common with dance. It is three dimensional and you have to master a very difficult technique before you can put any of your own interpretation upon it. Just up my street, dancing is just the same. I have now been making and choreographing pots for over thirteen years. The great thing is I can now continue for ever as there is no time limit on it, unlike dancing. I just hope my hands can take the strain!!
Pottery has filled the space that dancing left behind. It has many similarities. It is physically demanding and has endless possibilities. It demands deep learning of the craft of making and decorating and I am captured by the challenge.
My pots are made with porcelain clay which is white and smooth and feels beautiful to use, but due to the nature of the material it is more difficult and very unforgiving. I throw the pots on the wheel aiming for as near accuracy as possible, particularly when making large pots that are joined together. When throwing I become transfixed by the subtleties of the curves and almost undetectable changes of direction. The quality and delicacy of hand forming the pot grips me like the qualities of dance once did.
I like the drama of colour and am inspired by the ocean, stunning skies and landscapes which are reflected in my glazes. The magical colours appear from the oxides in the glazes and underglazes, brought out by the reduction atmosphere of the kiln. The results are to an extent unpredictable when firing with flame in a gas kiln, which is very exciting and it gives the pots more life about them. It is important to me to be very involved in the firing of my pots, adjusting the kilns temperature levels and atmosphere. It enables me to contribute to the decorative end result.
I like to continually develop my work, always moving on and exploring new approaches and ideas. Working with Raku is a beautiful serendipitous process, which requires the maker to remove the pot from the kiln at around 1000 degrees centigrade, plunge it into sawdust, which ignites and the pot is engulfed in flames and smoke. The beautiful surface of the pot is only partly predictable to the maker. The firing and glazing combination is equal to the finished surface decoration that is never quite the same every time. Raku has a freshness and an unpredictability that makes it exciting for the maker and the onlooker. Each pot has an individuality of its own almost as though it collaborated with maker and fire gods to create its own decoration.
When I make a pot I try to connect with the deep emotion that moves me about pottery. The touch and feel and the three dimensionalness, subtle curves and movement. The choreography of the pot that makes you want to turn it to look at all aspects. A pot that exudes grace like the body of a dancer. My materials and the unpredictable process, although probably the most challenging, give me the tools to achieve the look I strive for. They have been the tools of choice for millennia and I feel a beautiful sense of continuity with the crafts people that have mastered and delighted in them through time.