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Decorating a pot can feel like a risky business – although superficial it can make or break the appeal of the object. During the last eighteen years of decorating pots, I have tried not to be timid or conservative and have taken risks, resulting in an embarrassing number of “seconds”… and many I’m proud of.

They are all one-off individuals from small batches. I can remember specific occasions and people who bought some of the pots pictured below, and I like to imagine that they are still in one piece, serving frequent cuppas, pouring, being held and sipped from and generally bringing pleasure.

My inclination to explore decorative techniques and ideas has resulted in considerable diversity which I would like to show you. Some are boldly tonal:

decorated small plate (stoneware) 2020

decorated breakfast cups (stoneware) 2017

decorated small mug (stoneware) 2018

But I have also enjoyed using colour, its energy and exuberance feels life affirming:

decorated teabowls (porcelain) 2012

decorated large mugs and teapot (stoneware) 2020

decorated beakers (porcelain) 2014

decorated small pourer (stoneware) 2019

Some are very quiet:

decorated teabowl (stoneware) 2018

decorated small pourer (stoneware) 2018

decorated small teapot (stoneware) 2017

decorated large plate (stoneware) 2018

decorated teabowl (stoneware) 2017

…and minimal:

decorated small pourer (stoneware) 2018

decorated small pourer (stoneware) 2018

decorated small mugs (stoneware) 2018

decorated bowl (stoneware) 2016

red dot breakfast cups (porcelain) 2009

(perhaps this last image is stretching the meaning of decoration).

Some have muted colours and an earthy feel:

decorated coffee cups (stoneware) 2016

decorated beaker (stoneware) 2018

decorated breakfast cup (porcelain) 2014

There is an intensity or vigour to the earliest decoration:

decorated teabowls (porcelain) 2014

decorated beakers (porcelain) 2006

decorated small and large pourers (porcelain) 2014

 

…which became more pared down and graphic:

Unglazed teapot 2014

decorated teapot (porcelain) 2014

decorated coffee cup (stoneware) 2020

decorated small pourers (stoneware) 2018

decorated small pourer (stoneware) 2019

decorated breakfast cup (stoneware) 2020

Thanks for reading / looking. I hope you have enjoyed my decoration!

Our work is in The Tate Modern. Well, it will be in the Tate Edit shop at Tate Modern from October 16th to be accurate.

In the Summer The Tate put out Open Call on Instagram. They were looking for objects by UK based makers / designers, to be beautiful and useful for the home. I thought our work could be the kind of thing they were after, so applied.

Instagram post in May

Earlier in the year we had had an un-planned hiatus in production and when the Open Call came it the seemed the right time for a fresh challenge. I applied with two of our products: a decorated beaker and a decorated pourer. I chose them because the shapes are relatively quick and easy for James to throw (being upright and not having lids or handles) and moreover, both forms lend themselves perfectly to my decoration.  We were shortlisted and subsequently the Tate placed an order.

decorated beakers h: 10cm 2019

beaker “backs”

I hope the pots suit the venue. I see them appealing to visitors who have an interest in contemporary Art and Design as much as Craft or Studio Pottery. In my presentation at the Tate, one of the interview panel commented “I can see you’re influenced by Constructivism…” she may be right but I suspect a more powerful influence came long before I had any knowledge of Art History, in the forms of dolly mixture and fuzzy felt… the influence of aesthetic play on a child.

decorated pourer h: 11.5cm

When people have said to us “Pottery is so therapeutic isn’t it?” James and I have tended to look at them askance, not wanting to disagree, acknowledging that for some people in some situations it is therapeutic, yet not really able to relate. After all, the first two weeks of my apprenticeship were spent learning to use a packing tape dispenser so that the tape was straight and un-creased. We were taught that Pottery was a SERIOUS business; that everything mattered and had to be RIGHT (see archive post The Perfectionist Problem).

Some twenty years on from having mastered a tape dispenser I think I get it. Pottery is therapeutic. It is because it matters that I can give it my full attention. All other concerns (which possibly matter more) are (temporarily) waived as I visit a place of pure shape, colour and design… bliss!

Thanks for reading.

For more examples of our decorated work please look here.