From first pinch pot to the Sussex Guild – Kate Hackett
July 5, 2021
My first experience of clay was with my Mum, who was an artist and weaver, but decided to take a course in pottery at our local college in Chichester. Following this, our family all got the clay bug and my sister and I used to play with clay and make pinch pots and small animals with Mum.
When I was doing my Foundation course at Worthing Art College, trying many disciplines, the only medium that I really loved and wanted to pursue was clay. I trained at Farnham and obtained my BA Hons. degree in Ceramics in 1977. During the 3 years at Farnham, I continued to improve my throwing technique and began to work with terracotta clay, decorated with clay slips and where possible achieving bright colours for my then Islamic inspired pots.
Mary Wandrausch, the acclaimed slipware potter, visited the degree show and, having seen that I work in slipware and sgraffito techniques, offered me a placement at her pottery in Godalming. I worked for Mary for about 6 months and gained valuable workshop experience and had an insight into running a pottery business. I also learned the hard way, that practise makes good standards of work and many of my first attempts at her designs were scrapped until my work was up to her exacting standards!
In 1978 I returned to Sussex and started my own pottery workshop. For the next decade or so, I potted when I had time out from looking after my two girls and began to develop my own style.
My Aunt used to make the most beautiful had sewn patchwork quilts which I loved and an idea came to me to try and create the look of little patches of material on my pots. Having tried carving he slip to reveal the terracotta clay underneath, which was far too time consuming, I eventually had success using newspaper cut out shapes, applied on certain areas of the pots with water to resist the slip when the pot was dipped. This, together with the sgraffito technique of scratching through the slip to draw lines, gave me the divisions that I needed to achieve a patchwork look.
Once I had refined this method, I was able to decorate my pots in bright slips and underglaze colours, using designs inspired by nature, folk art, land and seascapes, flora and fauna.
I began to sell my work at local craft events in the Chichester area, but once I had gained more confidence in the work I was producing, I decided to go further afield to market it. I was accepted to take a stand at the Country Living Fair in London and found that my style of country/folk art pots were popular there and continued attending both the Spring and Christmas shows each year for the next 14 years!
During that time I had visited Sussex Guild shows and loved the atmosphere and, of course, the high standard of work exhibited. I decided to re-apply (having been unsuccessful at my first attempt) and joined the Guild in 2006.
Now, I mainly concentrate on exhibiting at the Sussex Guild shows and always look forward to the camaraderie of Guild members and meeting and chatting to visitors face to face. I also sell my work in the Sussex Guild Shop and Gallery in Lewes.
I have my own website and in 2021 I will have pots for sale on The Sussex Guild’s Online Selling Exhibitions planned in the spring, summer and winter.