I started working on developing ceramics workshops at Sunken Studio at the beginning of September 2016. It’s been invigorating to become aware of, and increasingly involved in, the local independent business scene in Leeds and I’m hoping that Sunken Studio will become a significant part of independent Leeds in 2017. Over the past four months I’ve met, and learnt of, lots of driven and entrepreneurial people from different disciplines and I’m looking forward to learning more about how they have arrived at where they are and what they do next.
Equally, I’ve been so focused on what Sunken Studio needs to become, and developing the ceramics workshops, that I’ve never really introduced myself. To remedy the oversight I thought I’d share more about the reasoning behind Sunken Studio; share a few images of my work; and tell a little of my background. I hope there’s just enough flavour. If you’re thinking about booking onto a ceramics workshop and would like to know more visit my LinkedIn profile.
I’ve been involved with ceramics for 24 years. I have an national and international exhibition profile. I have presented work in Korea, Germany, Australia, Belgium, France (Paris and Vallauris) and America (New York, Philadelphia, Arizona). I am a member of Contemporary Applied Arts, London and have also shown work at the Crafts Council, Galerie Pierre Marie Giraud, Carlin Gallery and Clara Scremini Gallery at DesignArt London. My first solo show was held at XX International Biennale of Contemporary Ceramics, Vallauris, France. I have received several grants and awards including the under thirty-five prize at the a XIX International Biennale of Contemporary Ceramics, France; the National Association of Ceramics in Higher Education Award for Excellence at Ceramic Art London and have been awarded a Grant for the Arts(Individual Award) and Craft Fellowship by the Arts Council England. My work can be found in the collections of the World Ceramic Exposition Foundation, Korea; Musée Magnelli, France and Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art. I am also featured in: Ceramic Glazes: The Complete Handbook (Doody, K., and Taylor, B., 2014), Breaking the Mould: New Directions in Ceramics (Hanaor, Z., 2007), The Workshop Guide to Ceramics(Hooson, D. and Quinn, A., 2012) and Ceramics: Tools and Techniques for the Contemporary Maker (Taylor, L., 2011).
Until 2011 I identified as a practicing ceramist who taught part-time. In 2015, after renovating my house and building a new studio (both taking much longer than expected), I returned to the studio and have been developing a new body of work ever since. From 2011 I identified as a Lecturer trying, and failing, to maintain a craft practice.
As well as my ceramics practice I have always valued learning: I started working with community groups in the voluntary sector and then gradually moved into formal education. I am a fully qualified tutor in Lifelong Learning and I place importance on our shared capacity to constantly grow and advance. For 10 years I worked at Leeds College of Art and Design with a team delivering the Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design. In my role I supported students with developing skills relevant to a range of interests – architecture, theatre design, interior design, product, furniture, craft, jewellery and ceramics. I have also worked with undergraduates at Leeds College of Art and New York State College of Ceramics.
The works accompanying this text are from my 2002-2011 archive. As well as setting-up Sunken Studio I’m also now developing new pieces – they should be a little easier to live with. All of the pieces are made from tens or hundreds of individual clay units repeated and assembled. I make improvised tools and employ quasi-mechanised processes to solve three-dimensional problems – albeit eccentric problems. I have an interest in pattern, efficiency and sustainability – but have a pretty broad interpretation of how these terms could be applied and what they mean.
Sunken Studio and my own practice are both concerned with how making can help us connect with each other and discover ourselves. I’d been losing, like so many others, that connection with a felt world and began to stagnate. I loved my job teaching Foundation Studies at Leeds College of Art but, at the same time, had been thinking that the skills and values obtained through my role could be utilised in a range of contexts – as long as it’s concerned with craftsmanship, creativity, constructing and community. My hope is that Sunken Studio will embody all these values – my practice will be more of a challenge to reconcile. It’s also important that, as well as developing practical skills and conscientiously connecting with a material world, both aspects of the business are social and humanistic.
Writing this down will go some way to keeping each business focused on the relevant audience. I know my practice and Sunken Studio will appeal to different people so, early on, I made the decision to separate my ceramics practice from Sunken Studio. I also wanted to reconnect with ceramic techniques and processes without feeling restricted by what had gone before.
I’ve relished playing and making again and have been spirited along knowing how much I’ll enjoy sharing what I’ve rediscovered and developed through delivering Sunken Studio’s Ceramics Tasters and Short Courses. It’s been liberating, and terrifying, to critically examine where I’ve been and where to go next – something I haven’t done for myself since my Postgraduate days. 2016 truly has been a year for being decisive. Here’s to using the past to look forward!