I blame it all on Barry Marks – my Head of Art at school.
He was a brilliant Studio Potter and came to work at the school as the new Dept. Head when I was 15yrs old. He dusted off the kiln in the corner of the classroom, repaired and serviced the throwing wheels and step by step created a marvellous pottery workshop within the school.
I remember like it was yesterday Barry throwing a pot on the wheel – demonstrating to the class in readiness of us all having a go. I was mesmerised and wanted more than anything to learn how to throw! I’d always been “arty” at school and loved to draw and paint but pottery took over.
Barry registered my enthusiasm and took the time to help me learn the basics. Before long it seemed that I was a bit of a natural at throwing. Barry taught me the stages that follow – turning, applying handles etc., biscuit firing, glazing and decorating. I couldn’t get enough of it!! I would climb through the window in the classroom at lunch break to get on the wheel! Barry encouraged me to take Pottery “A” level alongside my “O” levels at the end of my 5th Year and I passed with flying colours.
After continuing my studies at 6th Form including, of course, Art & Design, I went on to study Creative Design (specialising in Ceramics) at Loughborough University. Ron Allen was the course Lecturer. He was another brilliant potter and an excellent tutor who helped me to hone my skills. I graduated with a 2:1 BA (Hons)
I applied and was accepted for an MA in Ceramics at Staffordshire University but was unable to secure funding (no grants available) so started thinking in earnest about getting a job.
Fate was kind to me, for while working as Teaching Assistant at the Summer School at Loughborough University, I discovered that a vacancy had arisen at Harrison Mayer Ltd in Stoke on Trent (one of the largest suppliers of raw materials and equipment to the pottery industry, the education sector and to studio potters). I joined as Craft Advisor in the September and Stoke on Trent – “the Heart of the Potteries” soon became my second home. It was a fantastic job – I rubbed shoulders with all my hero potters of the day and got to travel the world! During this time I was mentored by another great man – Derek Royle who knew more than I could ever hope to about Ceramic Technology, but he taught me enough about the science behind the craft for me to be awarded Grad.I.Ceram.
I have been fortunate enough to have been immersed in the pottery industry all of my working life. Little did I know that three key individuals: Barry Marks, Ron Allen and Derek Royle would have such a strong influence over my career path.
After 5 years with Harrison Mayer (latterly known as Potterycrafts) I moved into Sales & Marketing / General Management. I’ve worked at a senior executive level for some of the leading brands such as; Denby Tableware, Hornsea Pottery, Churchill Hotelware, Emma Bridgewater, Steelite International PLC.
I now have my own business sourcing ceramics and other homeware products for NEXT and other major retailers.
Throughout my working life I have managed to maintain my interest and practical skills in Studio Ceramics.
More recently I have been able to dedicate much more time to potting. I improved the studio – structurally and invested in some new equipment; most notably a new gas kiln which has enabled me to get back into high temperature reduction-fired ceramics which I find particularly exciting and quite challenging to control. I prepare all my own glazes and am enjoying developing some new and interesting finishes. I have a passion for making things that are functional yet at the same time have an aesthetic beauty and physical balance making them a joy to behold and to use.
I also enjoy teaching and offer a range of one to one or small groups lessons working in my studio. It’s wonderful to help people realise their dream of being creative and making their own pots.
I hope this gives you an insight into the man behind the name and what is means to me personally and professionally. If you have a few minutes and would like to read my latest updates, you can do so here in my blog. Alternatively, if you would like to get in touch then please email me direct at email@example.com
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