Was it liberating to be filming this series?
Yes, it was in a way, because I set aside my ‘normal’ life during the filming so that I could get completely absorbed in all things pottery, which was a real treat to do without too many other distractions. I absolutely loved that freedom to be wholly creative.

What age or time in your life did you start pottery and who inspired you?
I first touched clay at school around the age of 14/15 and an inspiring teacher called Mr Matthews taught me the basics of handbuilding and Old English Slipware. I immediately fell in love with the stuff and made two owls for my ‘O’ Level art. I was rather hopeless academically and it was just wonderful to be able to thrive at something creative.

Can you say something about the best piece of pottery you have ever made, and any memories that are attached to it?
I think my best piece of pottery was a tall coil-built sculptural vessel of a hooded woman, which I sawdust fired. I had based the face of the woman on my aunt who had passed away and made her look peaceful and gentle. I accidentally sold her and was rather mortified that I had lost her. I had been invited by an artist friend to submit five pieces of pottery to a shared exhibition of five women. It was the first time I had ever done anything like this piece and because I didn’t want to sell her I put what I thought was a ridiculous price on her of £300. At the private view at least three people wanted to buy her and she was taken by the Mayor and was in the local newspaper. I burst into tears! I didn’t do any more big pieces after that as I was working and having children instead… my best creations!

Where do you make your pottery, do you have a shed or a workshop that you share?
I am exceedingly fortunate to have a studio in my garage. It started out as a small corner among the garage stuff and I had to squeeze past bicycles and a lawn mower. Then we bought a shed a few years ago and cleared the space that I have now. We took the wooden doors off and replaced them with glass doors and it has now turned out to be a fabulous creative space.

What is your favoured build technique and why?
My favoured technique is probably hand-building, either coiling or slab building, although I do throw a little bit as well, but with less confidence. Hand-building is a slower process but I feel I have more control of the build and more flexibility with the shapes I can produce. When I am slab-building I will have made templates first so that it is a bit like dress-making; once all pieces are cut out they then just need assembling. That’s the best bit for me.

Pottery is usually a relaxing hobby and a lengthy process so what was it like to be working under quite strict time constraints that first week?
The time constraints in the first week of the GPTD were quite a shock to the system. I was used to taking a few days to achieve something that had to be achieved in a matter of hours. It meant that I had to be really organised and know how I was going to use every minute that I had. There was no room to ponder over how I was going to make something, I just had to get on with it. I was surprised at how much I did enjoy this aspect as it meant that I had to be 100 % focused on what I was doing. At home I have so many other things to do so it was good to have my attention on just one thing.

What is your favourite piece of pottery that you make for friends and family, and do you get any special requests around Christmas or birthdays?
I love decorating and have made a number of bowls just so that I can use lots of colour and mark-making. It has ended up with lots of people getting soup bowls for birthdays and Christmas and I think it’s about time they got something else now. A simple bowl is probably the easiest thing to throw and it is quite quick once you get into the swing of it. It is also the perfect space for a splash of colour. I am getting requests for bigger things now, like clocks, but they take a lot longer.

How did you find filming walking in on the first day?
Oh heavens. The first time I walked into Gladstone Pottery I was pretty overwhelmed by the fact that I was actually there and it wasn’t all a dream. Then walking into the main studio was mind-blowing as I was incredibly familiar with it from watching the past series and more. Being in the studio space I felt reverent and excited. Seeing all of the cameras and the lights and production team was scary at first and I was concerned I’d make an idiot of myself as there was nowhere to hide! I looked around and kept saying in my head, “This is real, this really is real” as it felt so dreamlike.

Which judge did you want to impress the most and why?
The judge I was most keen to impress was Keith and I was so star-struck when he came over to my bench with Rich and Ellie that I actually curtsied. For goodness sake! I just didn’t know what to do with myself and it felt like the best thing to do but I obviously made a fool of myself straight away!

What do you feel that you will take away from your experience on The Great Pottery Throw Down?
What I will take away from the GPTD is a gorgeous smorgasbord of memories and experiences. Most noteworthy of these will be the wonderful, creative people who have now become friends and technical advisors. Being able to try new things, clays, glazes, making methods, having spot challenges and meeting other makers.

Apart from the incredible memories, I will also take away a plethora of wisdom and advice from the judges and a new confidence in myself. I did things I never thought I would be able to do and with the feedback from the judges I now know what my strengths are and the direction I perhaps need to go in. I am so grateful for that. Confidence, knowledge and friends. What a gift.

Did you enjoy being in the midst of pottery country in Stoke, and filming at the Gladstone Pottery Museum?
It was such a privilege to be at Gladstone in the the Stoke Potteries and I really felt its history all around me each time I walked the cobbled paths around the bottle kilns. It was inspiring to feel the journey continuing there and history still being made with new potters on bright journeys. I felt humbled by the past potters who worked from very young ages, long hours and for little money. They did an incredible job and paved the way for future potters to be recognised, like Clarice Cliff.

How hard was it to keep a secret?
Keeping it a secret actually got easier in some ways, once I’d got over the urge of wanting to tell the world that I’d got on the programme! And then being away from my work at the pub got tricky as the locals were wondering where I was going and rumours started flying around that I had left my partner, some thought I’d gone to New Zealand. They seem to have accepted stories about me going to stay with my mum to help her and were quite concerned for her health and wellbeing.

Do you think your pottery friends or work friends were surprised to see you on television?
There were a lot of very surprised people when they saw me on TV, including old work colleagues and clients I have worked with over the years. Many knew I had applied for the programme a couple of years ago and I think they were happy that I got on it in the end. I hope it encourages them to never give up on their own dreams.

What was your best and worst moment overall in the series?
My worst moment was during my final big challenge and realising I had made a big technical error which then went on to waste a huge amount of my time trying to rectify it. There was a huge pressure to get it right and I knew that I was running out of time. I had big plans of doing some fancy decorations and having it completely fit for purpose and impressing the judges. Unfortunately, it got worse when I had to fill many cracks at the decoration stage as well, which took away yet more time from the detail I wanted to paint. I was pretty disappointed but also proud that I had got as far as I had in the show, even though it had lost me a place in the final.

My best moments have to be the outdoor ones as they were easily the most exciting and gave great results too. The Raku firing was such fun and I loved how my set had turned out – until it started to fall apart when I tried to attach a handle. I was so determined to fix it somehow and I did it! The very best was the making of the outside kilns that sawdust-fired our self-sculptures and seeing the wonderful colours emerge from the smoky ashes was like pure magic. I think I may have been a bit excited then.

What’s next for you in the pottery world and what are your hopes and ambitions after The Great Pottery Throw Down?
Doing the GPTD has given me so much more insight into what I think I need to do next in my pottery and I am so grateful for that, as I was dabbling in a rather directionless manner. I will now take my pottery life far, far more seriously and can actually see myself as a potter now moving into the future. I want to make clocks, zoetrope bowls, quirky fish and bug crockery and larger sculptural pieces. I’d like to hope that my work will improve and go into galleries and shows, and sell!. I will also do a small amount of teaching and sharing of my studio space because so many people want to experience pottery. I think it’s important to spread happiness wherever you can.

You can read more interviews here 


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