I thought it was time to put a face to the name and a story to how I got to this place (and I was told by a gypsy I should tell my stories so I guess I should). I have recently made the transition to full time potter ( …… ceramicist / artist / maker .... its all too new to really know what to call it yet) and I have had a few people surprised about my 'new' direction or comment how it’s great that I have found now my passion. The reality is that it found me a long, long time ago!
So here is a little history of me and a few pics for fun! I grew up in a tiny hamlet in Northern Cumbria, a handful of houses with Hadrian’s Wall running through the village. I checked out what Wikipedia had to say about my village of Banks and we got 2 sentences - Banks, Cumbria and the bulk of those sentences are about how far away other places are. They need to try harder. It is a fabulous little village that is steeped in farming, left over Roman artefacts and has its own art past. Ben and Winfield Nicholson even lived and painted there ( he gets a bit more Wikipedia space) in 1920’s. I have a feeling that my Granda lodged with him for a while, but I should really check that with my Mum.
Growing up the village had about 10 houses and an art gallery…. Yep! An art gallery ran by artist Li Yuan-chia. As well as having well renowned artists exhibit Li ran what felt like a continuous stream of children’s workshops. Add in having a Mother who is an artist and was an art teacher my normal growing up was making paper, using natural dyes to dye sheep wool to spin and weave, helping Mum set up exhibitions and work at craft fairs and hanging out there with the other exhibitors, making felt, printing anything, playing with clay, painting, entering art competitions, silk painting, fabric screen printing, going to London to see galleries and exhibitions, having work in limited edition books that were sold in galleries and even the Tate London. You name it we did it! Studying art in school and going on to do an Art degree was a completely natural path.
Then the sensibilities of adulting hit and after I finished my Art degree in York, I listened to the world that tells you that you can’t earn and income being an artist and so did my P.G.C.E in Cardiff to teach primary age. Very boring and I was so not into it but did it. Lucky I did too as it let me to move to a new town (Liverpool) and meet my husband. Roll on 21 years and I have taught, I have stayed home with kids and I have built and ran my own direct selling business. Oh and I have emigrated (that’s a whole different story) to Australia. Through all of these years I have always created on the side in some form whether it be painting, craft with kids, drawing, whatever I could in the little time I had really.
Then about 8 or so years ago I decided I needed more, I needed to commit more time to doing and so I started going to a wonderful ceramics studio in Wellington Point working under the guidance of Richard De Hann. For my first few years I jumped from project to project and technique to technique enjoying my quiet time and allowing my creativity and skill base to develop. Little by little I wanted more and allowed myself more time and more head space. I challenged myself to with projects and was gently encouraged with how to improve and how to stretch myself. I had my eyes opened to focusing in and learning more about the huge and never ending world of ceramics. I started setting up my home studio (always been a dream!! Basically though I feel like I need to be in an old stone barn not a garage but shit happens. My studio is looking pretty damn fine. And when its hot I can have air con and when cold I can heat it and I don’t get any creepy crawlies which is important living in Australia where most things want to kill you). I then decided to stop saying no and to allow things to develop, to say yes to people wanting to buy and place orders with me, to say yes to myself with prioritising time. It got to the point when my soul was screaming at me to take a chance and come back to who and where I am meant to be. With my hands in clay, making, creating, dreaming and designing. So this is me. Standing on the brink of a whole new phase in life. Going full circle and looking back to move forward.
Banks Village for anyone wanting a nosy -
Hadrian's Wall - Banks Turret
LYC Museum. Early 1980's
Starting early, winning a Farmers Weekly competition.