Jacqui uses various had building techniques to create her work from a mixture of T Material and Porcelain which she wedges together in varying proportions. The work is burnished to a high sheen before bisque firing then several masking techniques are used to build up an intricate surface pattern before the work is smoke fired, mainly using newspaper. A final coat of wax seals the surface of the pots and restores the high sheen.
Jacqui has been a member of NWP for about ten years and is a professional member of the CPA.
I never really intended to be a potter. It’s funny how things turn out!
last of my three children went to school in the mid eighties I decided to
go back to college to do an introductory course in interior design. I enjoyed
the course so much that I thought I would like to continue to degree level
but in order to do that I had to complete a year of a foundation in art and
design. That’s great I thought. I had always wanted to do art but was
always steered towards more academic subjects at school so at last I would
get a chance to explore my artistic side. Little did I know what wonders the
course would introduce to me, I loved it although I struggled with certain
subjects, being so long out of the system. Among the many subjects of course
there was ceramics. I think I was hooked from the very first session where
I had to design and make a 3 dimensional object from a multiple of equally
sized semi soft slabs.
I was lucky to have an excellent teacher at foundation. He came very much from a design background so everything we did had to be resolved on paper before we were ever allowed to get our hands into clay. This caused great consternation among many of my fellow students who just wanted to get their hands into the material and having gone on to become a teacher myself I realise that most students hate to do the design work first! But it was and is a great discipline, which has taught me never to be at a loss for something new to make.
When my foundation year was over I realised that I hadn’t thought about interior design since starting and that my real future lay in ceramics so I enrolled on the Design/Ceramics course at the same college, which allowed me to continue to learn under the same tutor. The next two years were wonderful and I got my diploma, passing with distinction and fully intending to go on to Staffordshire University where I had been offered an unconditional place but like so many people I have a chronic back problem and disaster struck with a collapsed disc leaving me unable to move for many months, so I had to defer my place for a year.
The following year I was seriously ill again and unable to take up my place but in between bouts of illness I had been making and already had several galleries selling my work so I felt confident that not all was lost. Eventually there seemed no point in going to university because I had already started to earn a small living form my work, and going back to study would have meant giving that up. I needed the money more!
At college my main interest had always been in low firing techniques but I was discouraged form exploring this area too much so once I had set up my workshop I decided to experiment further to develop a range of hand built forms with burnished surfaces which would then be smoke fired in some way. The problem was that I was also interested in surface pattern so had to find a way to combine both techniques. A short course with Jane Perryman introduced me to several possibilities which allowed me to develop a range of smoke fired forms with the intricate surface detail which I think most typifies my work. Of course the techniques have been radically adapted over the years and are now very much my own but there are certain potters and people who are inspirational in our lives and I think along with my tutor Ian Chapman, Jane Perryman has to be one of the most important.
About a year after leaving college I was invited back to teach an evening class. I enjoyed the challenge enormously and eventually became a part time lecturer for BTEC as well as other courses. Through my teaching at this college I was offered another part time post in the NHS working within a department teaching art as therapy for people with severe and enduring mental health problems. This was wonderfully rewarding work and I would probably be there still had it not been for the dreaded back which gave out again, this time leaving me semi paralysed and in hospital. After many months off work and felling very depressed I realised it was time for a change and my husband and I decided to move to the country (something we had talked about for years) so that I could just work at my own pace, as my health would allow.
So here I am in rural Shropshire, not quite in Wales where I really wanted to be (being Welsh) but just fifteen metres from the border and at least our valley has a Welsh name! Of course life has not really slowed down much but at least the location is soothing and peaceful and makes the stress---less stressful!
My work is currently going through an experimental stage. I’m still mostly interested in low firing techniques but my traditional work is incredibly labour intensive and hard on the back so I’m exploring alternative firing techniques such as resist Raku.
In addition to this I have just completed a book on hand building techniques, which is to be published in the spring. I was asked to do the book because of project work I had done for other books, which include Steve Mattisons’ - Two in One Ceramics and Jenny Rodwells’ - Pottery Workshop. Its funny how we choose to make changes in our lives to relieve the pace and tension then just fill the space with other things.
In 2004 I’m hoping
to run courses in hand building and low firing techniques from home. More
details will be published in the next newsletter for anyone who may be interested.