I studied graphic design and natural history illustration at college, and moved from Northumberland to London in 1984, to launch my career as a designer.

I first discovered I had a feel for clay when I took up pottery evening classes in the mid-1980s. I still have the first pot I made – a coiled vessel, 50cm tall, with an impossibly small base which  everyone said wouldn’t balance, but it did. It took me the whole of the first term to make, and I loved it.

I found clay a comforting medium, and this form of handbuilding to be a good antidote to my deadline driven work life. I developed a rhythm in my coiling, and continued to produce large pieces that I could take my time over, and develop an intuitive bond with. Increasingly I found myself using less glaze, preferring the warmth and tactile qualities of unglazed clay.

In the mid-1990s I started to spend time in Cambridge and made some discoveries that would change my way with clay. The Fitzwilliam Museum with its amazing ceramics collections, the contemporary art gallery Primavera, and the work of two potters, Elspeth Owen and Jane Perryman. I was inspired by visits to the Fitzwilliam, in awe of the beauty and simplicity of the strong functional forms of past craftspeople, decorated only by the markings of the burnishing tool, the hand of the maker, and the effects of fire and smoke. But it was attending a one week smoke firing course by Jane Perryman in 2002, that ignited my long-term vision and passion for this way of firing.

My inspirations for my own work come from the natural world, and the beauty in found objects. Unearthing pieces of broken ceramic particularly interests me, made of clay which comes from the earth, to end up returning to the earth to be discovered like a piece from some historical jigsaw. I wanted to create a sense of the unearthed and ‘found’ in my work. Smoke firing seemed to me to be the way.

After nearly 30 years working in the design industry, I am now committing myself to finding my way with clay. I am a member of Anglian Potters

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