Some images of my slipware pots.
They are all fashioned from Wexford red clay. The variation in colour is down to the amount of red iron oxide I add to the glaze recipe typically 2% -4%. The surfaces are further modified by their position in the kiln which is fired with wood. The naked flame of the wood firing can often leave a strong signature which can enhance the life of the work.
I have never made a ‘standard’ range and see my pieces as ‘one off’. I don’t wholesale but rather sell my work from my studio or from occasional shows/exhibitions. Since I have never depended on pottery for my daily bread my output is small compared to the larger professional studios. Commercial concerns therefore have never been a top priority. After such a long time of continuous making I still see myself as a ‘committed amateur’ in the best sense of that term.
My work can be described as ‘domestic’ or ‘functional’ in that the forms are based on traditional pots for use i.e jugs, dishes, jars etc. The place of such pots in our homes in the 21st century is now often questioned. The most common question I am asked is ‘What would you use it for?’ Curiously this happens most often with lidded jars which i particularly like making. I do believe that hand made things made with love can bring beauty to and greatly enhance our lives. One of my earliest memories of pottery is a large brown saltglazed jar that my mother kept on a shelf by the stairway in our house. I saw it every night as I went to bed. I have no memory of her ever ‘using’ it but it left its impression.
Pottery is the most domestic of arts. We can all relate to it and feel comfortable with its homeliness. It works on us by stealth. This anecdote from George Elliot’s Silas Marner illustrates this very well. Silas Marner the weaver of Raveloe has lost his faith in humanity because he has been found guilty of a theft of which he was innocent. The pot which he used to fetch water from the well each morning keeps his emotional life from atrophying –
…… he had a brown earthenware pot, which he held as his most precious utensil among the very few conveniences he had granted himself. It had been his companion for twelve years, always standing on the same spot, always lending its handle to him in the early morning, so that its form had an expression for him of willing helpfulness, and the impress of its handle on his palm gave a satisfaction mingled with that of having the fresh clear water.
Such regard has he for the pot that when he lets it fall he glues it back together again because he cannot bear the loss. This is why we have pots that we don’t always use. Use of course is recommended.