Season's Greetings / 2014
2014 was a very productive year. I learnt a huge amount and had the privilege of meeting some interesting people in some interesting places. I look forward to what 2015 holds for me and sharing it with you all.
In particular, I would like to thank the following:
Robin Levien, Studio Levien
Sir Terence and Lady Vicki Conran
Sean Sutcliffe, Benchmark Furniture
Caroline Symonds and Jo Firth, Rocket Food Ltd
The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, QEST
Mark, Natalie & Catherine, The New Craftsmen
Tom Bell and Ed Wyand, VERDEN
Terry Ellis, Fennica
Kelvyn Lawrence Smith, Mr Smith's Letterpress Workshop
Model & Mould Making / Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust
Over the course of the past two years, I have been working almost exclusively on bespoke commissions for retailers, restaurants and architects. As a result, I have learnt that my desire to produce new collections of well-crafted objects cannot be reliant on a potter's wheel alone. The diverse and batch-production nature of these commissions meant that I needed to seek other methods of production in order to fulfil various projects simultaneously.
In search of independent model makers, mould makers and small scale manufacturers who share my vision of refined and honest craftsmanship I visited Stoke-on-Trent. To my delight, I discovered there is an abundance of handwork to be found in the various stages of manufacture; indeed, manufacture is derivative of manufactum, the Latin definition for made by hand.
I came to find the 'outsourcing' of these processes somewhat illogical, however. My approach to designing and making is very hands-on; the more I know about a particular process or material, the more I will learn of it's versatility and thus my dexterity as a designer and maker will improve.
My QEST Scholarship has granted me a number of one-to-one workshops with an expert model and mould maker who will teach me various modelling and mould making techniques that will allow me greater authority, creative control and responsibility for the genuine origin of my design portfolio. As a craftsman, I am not 100% satisfied unless I know that every stage of the making process has been meticulously crafted and examined.
QEST is the charitable arm of the Royal Warrant Holders Association.
The Future Is In Our Hands / Crafts Council
The Crafts Council asked me to sign this open letter published in The Times on 10 November 2014. I was honoured to have been asked to sign it alongside some very prestigious names such as: Sir Terence Conran, Grayson Perry, Edmund de Waal, and Professor Sir Christopher Grayling to name but a few.
We were also invited to attend the launch of their Education Manifesto 'Our Future Is In The Making' at the House of Commons. Key speakers at the launch were Tristram Hunt MP for Stoke-on-Trent and Shadow Education Secretary, Crafts Council Chairman Professor Geoffrey Cossick, and potter and writer Edmund de Waal.
I urge you to read the manifesto and take a moment to think about the impact craft has had on your life or indeed how it could positively enhance our future.
Visit the Crafts Council's website here.
Cover Story / Crafts Magazine
On a sunny day in July I was visited by Teleri Lloyd Jones, Deputy Editor of Crafts. At the time I was working from a studio on the third floor of Cockpit Arts in Deptford. We spent a couple of hours talking about the various projects I was working on, had worked on and what my future ambitions were. It was a very enjoyable morning and although we were in the company of Teleri's trusty dictaphone, I felt very much at ease explaining the ethos behind my work and why making mattered to me. A few days later, Stephen Coates, Crafts's Creative Director and photographer Elisabeth Scheder-Bieschin visited me for a photoshoot.
On a sunny September morning, I walked downstairs to check the post only to find a copy of the latest Crafts with my work pictured on the front cover! I knew the article would be substantial but had no idea it was destined to be a cover story too. Having followed Crafts since my days as a student at Camberwell, it was a very pleasant surprise to be featured in it as a professional.
If you would like to read 'The Quiet Life' please follow this link.
Crafted Mentoring / Walpole
Following a rigorous application process, I was thrilled to be offered a place on Crafted's mentoring scheme as part of the class of 2013. I was paired with Alistair Hughes, Managing Director of Savoir Beds. It has been a great pleasure working with Alistair, who has always been very generous with his time and encouragement. I am very grateful for his efforts in helping to shape the present and future ambitions of my business.
"Crafted is a mentoring programme passionate about connecting the skills of those who have built successful businesses with those who have the potential to do so.
Launched in 2009, Crafted was developed by Walpole and Arts & Business to enable emerging craft businesses to develop their business skills while connecting luxury businesses with a new generation of skilled craftsmen, and promoting the craft component in luxury in a fresh, contemporary and sustainable way. Crafted provides mentoring and business advice for up to 12 craft entrepreneurs each year selected by a panel of industry experts, connecting them to business leaders within the luxury sector who will support them on key issues.
Every individual involved in the programme has a fundamental belief in craftsmanship and an appreciation for objects beautifully made. We find each business the right mentor, offer a series of business workshops, connect them to a group of expert advisors and create dynamic platforms to help them promote and grow their businesses."
An Edition Of Fifty Mugs / Sir Terence and Lady Vicki Conran
Back in 2011, I designed and made 'An Edition Of Fifty Mugs'.
I became frustrated with the notion that a series of seemingly identical thrown objects were in fact not identical due to their hand made nature. Yes, this is certainly true but I wanted to push this further and test my dexterity as a designer and maker. In response, I decided to make fifty unique mugs - i.e. no two designs were the same because of their composition not because of the process by which had been made.
In order to achieve this I devised a simple structure; five shapes, two surfaces ( ridged / smooth ) and a variety of different handles. Each beaker was thrown in porcelain with a carefully hand built handle.
Although each mug was for sale individually, Lady Vicki Conran purchased the whole set, from Priscilla Carluccio's shop Few and Far, for Sir Terence Conran's Christmas present. As I'm sure you could imagine, I was delighted to have met Vicki and thrilled when I was told she bought the collection for Terence.
Since then I have been lucky enough to visit Barton Court, Terence and Vicki's Berkshire home, to see the mugs in their kitchen. They now reside on a bespoke set of shelves (made by Benchmark Furniture); five per shelf and so ten shelves tall, in between two bay windows overlooking the glorious grounds of Barton Court. The kitchen is the first room you walk into the house and the mugs are the first things you see as you walk into the kitchen. It was the first time I had seen them since they were bought at Few and Far and I must say, they do look very striking. I was delighted to see them again.
Summer School / Royal Designers for Industry
I was offered a place on this prestigious Summer School organised by the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Designers for Industry at Darlington Hall. RDI's have designed, amongst other things: the iPhone, the Harry Potter film sets, the mini-skirt, the Millennium Bridge, the London Taxi and the World Wide Web.
In addition to the many RDI's in attendance (Robin Levien, Roger Law, Chris Wise, Dinah Casson, Michael Wolff, Mike Dempsey, Tristram Carfare, Peter Clegg, Andrew Grant, Mark Major, Perry King, Timothy O'Brian, Charlie Paton and Georgina von Etzdorf) there were 24 young designers and 12 wildcards (people without a design background whose career or life intersects the design world in some way).
The four day event was a fascinating insight into other peoples creative thinking processes. We were all very much pushed out of our comfort zones yet safe in the knowledge that everyone was equal.
You can read an RSA blog post about the occasion and watch a time-lapse video of us building a 'neutral net of wishes' here.
Man Of The Moment / Boden
I was asked by Boden to feature in their 'Man Of The Moment' campaign. Three men were interviewed on camera wearing Boden clothing in our respective workplaces.
In Profile / Ceramics Monthly & Pottery Making Illustrated / Wrap Magazine
I find writing to be a rewarding process that helps organise my thoughts and affirm the ideas that shape and inform my work. I was very pleased to be asked by American publication Ceramics Monthly and it's sister magazine Pottery Making Illustrated to write two articles describing my practice and working methods.
Studio Visit : Billy Lloyd / Ceramics Monthly
Material, Form and Function / Pottery Making International
Wrap Magazine was founded by an old school friend of mine Polly Glass and her partner Chris Harrison in September 2010. Since then, they have gone on to promote the work of up-and-coming illustrators. They also champion designers working in other disciplines and I was delighted to feature in their Human Endeavours issue #5 alongside fellow designer Ian McIntyre.
Craft Work / Wrap Magazine