‘Why work with clay’?

I was a quilter working in a dry, warm environment so why transfer to working with wet messy clay?

The experience of handling clay was a revelation; what versatility! You could craft a pinch pot or work with coils, slabs, create functional ware, you name it. The wheel proved to be the ultimate challenge and fantastic fun.

I started my ceramics journey in Paddington in the early 1980’s with Alison Britton as my tutor. Little does she know how much she hooked me into clay. I potted for many years until moving out of London into Surrey. It was during this period that I was able to set up a pottery at home developing my technical skills alongside the talented Dutch potter [Cornelia Ahearn] .

The raku firings in the country always proved to be a highlight. My children grew up with the smell of kilns and sawdust never far away. The yearly exhibitions we presented where immensely rewarding and showed what could be achieved with clay.

Whilst attending the International potter’s camp in Aberystwyth in 2007 I met Archie McCall, the lead tutor of design at Glasgow School of Art. He encouraged me to enrol on a distance learning degree course in Ceramics from the Art School. This was my chance to challenge and extend my abilities. The intention was to be in a position to gain further inspiration from like-minded potters as well as diversifying my skills. Amongst a wealth of other eye opening tutorials and a trip to Kecskemet in Hungary, I gained particular inspiration spending a week working with Ken Eastman. This convinced me that slab built vessels was the direction I was heading for.

After four years study, I graduated in July 2012 with a BA from Glasgow School of Art, with an enriched understanding of ceramics, and far broader network of potter contacts. It is the inspiration from this period that is the driving force for this exhibition. I am now ready for the creative challenge of the 21st Century. I have retired most of my earlier work ready for this new horizon.

My question is, will my work be of interest or merit to be pieced together by archaeologists in the 22nd century?

I have always been inspired by derelict buildings and decaying industrial sites and am currently bringing some of these factors into my Raku firing work especially bonding metal and clay together with Raku glazes, I realise that some of the latest pots are quite dark maybe this reflects some of the effects of lockdown. Watch this space for new pots!

E Gaynor Wilson