Interview | Rebecca Proctor, Modern Craft Works
Cornish ceramicist, Rebecca Proctor, kindly provided the vessels for our recent Ikebana workshop in London last month. Lou Archell caught up with her to discover more about Rebecca's work and studio.
Please can you tell us a little about you, your studio and where you live.
I make wheel-thrown pottery from my small workshop in North Cornwall. I often work for restaurants, and am lucky to have made tableware for some amazing chefs, but mostly I just love making pots for anyone who enjoys them. I also have two young kids (Wren 6 & Fred 5) and my husband Andrew is an illustrator/wood turner. We both work from separate sheds in our garden, and work and life is happily very blurred.
What is your background, have you always been into throwing clay?
I’ve always had a very visual background. I studied art & design history, and worked as a design writer and trend forecaster in London for eight years. I suppose those years were helpful in that they honed my eye and critical thoughts. I also love research. Pottery began as a hobby nine years ago and has very gradually grown into more. My first paid pottery gig was three years ago and I've been working flat-out ever since.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Everywhere and nowhere! English country potters who have spent a lifetime making simple, beautiful pots for use, inspire me. These are very skilled people who are almost always humble and kind. Equally I enjoy Japanese and Scandinavian design; after all I’m a girl of the modern world!
Your work is very minimal in shape and colour is that an important aesthetic to you?
My starting point for pottery is always the materials. I want to celebrate beautiful natural clays (many of which are mined locally) and hand mixed glazes. I also try to make pots that will enhance the food or flowers placed on them, so it’s not about them being highly decorated in themselves, it’s more about being quiet yet hopefully a little bit beautiful.
Have you developed a style over the years?
It’s a very slow and gradual process but I think I might be getting there. I absolutely love the wood-fired pieces that I’ve made over the last year. I’m part of the Kigbeare Kiln team, a group of potters who have built and fire a large anagama style kiln under the guidance of Svend Bayer. I feel very lucky to be part of that project and the pots that come out of the kiln always surprise me.
Who do you admire creatively?
So many people ... I actually just really admire people who do things. I feel like its pretty easy to have an idea but to act on it is the tricky part. So, I admire people who go for it and throw themselves into things.
What are your plans for the future?
Just to keep making pottery - it’s a strange addiction that I can see no sign of abating. I’d like to develop my range with new forms and glazes. I’ve just discovered beautiful clay at my local beach and I’d like to work with that as a slip hopefully. I also want to keep learning about wood firing - that’s a very long-term project that hopefully won't ever end.
And finally where can we buy your work?
We are delighted that Rebecca will be providing the vessels for the upcoming Ikebana & Food event in Bristol on the 28th April. Tickets for this event are on sale now.
Images of the Ikebana event by Maria Bell
Images of Rebecca's work and studio by Rebecca Proctor