The MADE NORTH Gallery presents new and experimental work by established and emerging northern designer/makers. We aim to promote a range of northern designer/makers and provide opportunities to find out a little bit more about how they work and their sources of inspiration.
We love the work of Pottery West and it is great to host their work on the MADE NORTH Store.
Catherine & Matt West both come from a design & art background graduating from Goldsmiths University. After initially joining pottery classes the pair developed a love of creating ceramics which led to the founding of Pottery West. They currently work from a studio in the Yorkshire Artspace, Exchange place in Sheffield City Centre
The two specialise in wheel-thrown functional ceramics opting to create pared down, minimal forms with tactile and textured glazes that give a rustic but contemporary sensibility. Their process is material led working from both visual and verbal production. Conceptualising as they create Matt and Catherine discuss how a product might be tweaked and how it might be used. Matt currently concentrates on the throwing of the form and Catherine works on the glazing.
Pottery West have a desire to collaborate with others and have done so over the years. Including the Kiosk Project Space in York, I will Kill Again / Dark Arts coffee & Cartwheel Coffee. They will also be taking part in The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in October and MADE London the same month where you can catch up with them.
We caught up with Catherine & Matt West at Pottery West to find out what shapes their thoughts and inspires their design process.
Who or what inspired you to become a designer?
We both come from a design and art background but the decision to become makers wasn’t overnight – it was a gradual process which started after our first few pottery classes. Taking your first fired pots home to use was an overwhelming feeling and an addictive one at that!
How would you describe your work?
We make wheel-thrown functional ceramics. We like to make pared down, minimal forms with tactile and textured glazes that give a rustic but contemporary sensibility.
Our process is material led as opposed to concept led and we celebrate that. Our design process is both visual and verbal, we draw a lot and then get making, then talk about what we’ve made and how we might tweak it, what we might call it, how it might be used, and so on. In terms of production, currently Matt concentrates on the throwing and form and Catherine the glazing.
Where are you based? Please Describe your studio.
We have a studio at the Yorkshire Artspace (Exchange Place). It’s a beautiful old building which had been derelict for a number of years before the Artspace moved in. There’s a real community spirit. Our studio is small but functional – but we’ve got plans for an upscale this year!
What piece of work are you most pleased or proud of, and why?
It’s a tricky question to answer as we don’t always feel proud about the finished pieces – it is more a satisfaction. We often find that we open our kiln to something unexpected and surprising, sometimes good and sometimes bad, this is part of the joy of making pots – there is a limit to the control we have. The pieces that are the most pleasing usually are the surprises.
What is the most satisfying part of the work you do?
It takes more time and energy than most people realise to make a pot. Each process is a separate undertaking from preparing the clay, throwing the pot, making the glaze, firing the kiln and everything else in-between. Because of this, it can be easy to get so caught up in the process and system of making and not stop and admire the finished result. It is really satisfying when someone buys a pot and it becomes the bowl they use everyday for breakfast or their favourite coffee cup – it’s the highest compliment to us!
What would be your dream project?
We really like the collaboration between Simon Rogan at L’Enclume and ceramicist David Sanderson. Tableware that must be functional, not only for cleaning and ergonomics, but as having almost equal importance to the food it holds, is really exciting. We’d love to work on a project like that.
What are you currently working on?
We are designing a tableware range for Kiosk Project Space in York. It’s a collaborative project space which will holds a café, shop and workshop space and is co-run by Rebecca Carr who makes beautiful clothes. We’re also working with Cassandra Ellis Studio, making a white range of ceramics for her upcoming show in London and plates for an exciting coffee roastery in Hackney called Dark Arts Coffee. Next month we’re going to be launching a kickstarter to help us raise funds for a bigger kiln and workspace. And in between the things we’re designing a new range of tableware. We’ve got a lot on our plates (no pun intended)!
When you’re not working on what do you like to do?
At the moment we do spend a lot of time working, but when we’re not working we like to do quite normal things, like cooking and walking in the Peaks, working on our house and spending time with family. Matt plays the piano and Catherine sends some time writing. But sometimes we just watch tv – Fargo is our current favourite.
When you’re not working on what do you like to do?
This is where we grew up, left and returned to. It’s where our family is and we love the landscape. It’s good to live somewhere affordable and green. We’re proud of being from ‘the north’, but we like other places too.