A first hand insight in to the fine craftsmanship of pottery, ceramicist Hannah Bould will be throwing pots live at the wheel in The Conran Shop Selfridges, offering a unique opportunity to see the detail that goes in to handcrafting her collections, including the exclusive ‘Contrast Collection’, created in collaboration with The Conran Shop.
We spoke to the North London-based ceramicist about where she draws her inspiration from, how her process has developed, and how the 'Contrast Collection' came about.
After studying Illustration at Camberwell, what drew you towards creating ceramics as a discipline?
After specialising in printmaking at Camberwell I went on to work at a fine art Print studio. For a couple of years I fell out of making my own work and eventually wanted a new outlet. Fortunately there was a ceramic studio in the same building where I worked offering evening classes, so I started going to that one day a week for a year or so and became completely addicted to throwing on the wheel. It felt quite natural to go from print to ceramics, both disciplines are process led and I enjoy the challenge of perfecting my skill set. I also love making functional objects that are used everyday as opposed to being purely decorative.
How would you describe your style?
I’d say it’s quite simple. Since making prints, I’ve always worked in black and white and I think that automatically gives my work a signature. I like a mixture of geometric and painterly mark making and whilst I like to make each piece unique, there is a definite theme holding them all together, one that I hope is clear, bold and playful.
What’s your favourite part of the process of making ceramics?
I love the initial stages of making a pot, throwing, trimming and forming the piece. It is amazing to see a recognizable shape emerge from a lump of clay. Throwing on the wheel is hugely calming and I find time flies when I’m on it. But probably the best part of the process is the final reveal on opening the kiln after glazing, it is always a surprise and I’m excited (and nervous!) every single time.
You currently live and work in London, what influence has the city had on your creative process and style of working?
I live in London Fields but my studio is at the bottom of my parent’s garden in Archway. Living in London means having a strong community of makers and artists around you. A lot of my friends from Art school are doing amazing things and that is really inspiring, it makes me want to get in the studio and it also means there is scope for some interesting collaborations.
Where do you draw inspiration from when designing patterns for your pottery?
All of my previous work in printmaking is echoed in my ceramics, looking back through my work I can see a direct correlation between my prints and my pots, the imagery is basically the same just realised in a different form. I like to work freehand and approach each piece individually, letting its form dictate the design.
How did the the Contrast Collection come about?
The Contrast collection is a variation on one of my first styles; the shapes used are motifs that reoccur again and again in my work. I love the interplay between raw clay and glossy glaze, I feel the pared back nature of the collection and the simple use of black and white really highlights the notion of contrast.
What ceramicists or artists have influenced your work?
My influences are; Ceramicists Stuart Carey and Nicola Tassie, whom I was taught by and later worked for and Karen Bunting who very kindly gave me her old wheel when I first started out. In terms of style for my designs, I have always been influenced by artists and movements like Bryan Ingham, Picasso, Bauhaus and modernist architecture.
What advice would you give to an aspiring ceramicist?
For me there has been a lot of trial and error so I’ve learnt to be patient, there are so many variables that can go wrong in Ceramics so I think it’s important to enjoy experimenting and learning. I’d also really recommend doing an apprenticeship; last summer I spent two months working in New York for Helen Levi, it was invaluable not only because I learnt a lot of technical skill from her but also I gained confidence in my own work and clarity in what I wanted to achieve.
Talk us through a typical day in your studio.
I get to the studio around 8:30 and depending on what projects I’ve got going on, I like to throw until about midday. If the weather’s nice I let the pots dry outside in the sunshine so I can turn and trim them later that afternoon. Later I’ll do a bit of glazing, decorating, attaching handles or packing orders. Last thing I do before I leave around 6:30 is unload and reload the kiln, firing overnight as it gets very hot when the kiln is on.
You’ll be throwing pots live in The Conran Shop at Selfridges during LDF, what do you hope visitors will take away from seeing you make your creations live, in real-time?
It will be great for customers to see the time that goes into making each piece and I hope it gives a better understanding of my work. I personally love watching people throwing as it’s so relaxing and mesmerising, If customers feel the same watching me throw I’ll be very happy!
Unfortunately London Design Festival 2016 is now over. However, you can find out more about The Conran Shop's events and LDF19 activities here.