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Interview with Potter Paul Rowbottom
INTERVIEWS

Interview with Potter Paul Rowbottom





This week we caught up with Potter Paul Rowbottom to talk about his love for pottery, his commissions and the pottery classes he teaches.

Where did your love for pottery come from?

I have always been drawn to the hand-made, pulling things apart and trying to put things back together; not always successfully. My first experience of working with clay was during sculpture evening classes at Harrow Art School. While studying sculpture at Leicester Polytechnic I became fascinated with the possibilities of ceramics & glass. Many years of teaching ceramics have developed a deep appreciation of pottery traditions and material culture from around the world. Using hand-made pottery, daily, is a great pleasure and connects us to an ancient heritage.

There are many ceramic collections around London to enjoy, further afield a stand-out collection can be found at the Heraklion museum in Crete, this museum is full of exquisite Minoan pottery, it’s a wonderful place to encounter our ceramic heritage. I can recommend a visit to No 2 Temple Place to see the current exhibition ‘Body Vessel Clay’ until 24 April 2022

We met you at Birch when we joined a pottery class, can you tell our readers a little more information on the classes you teach at the Birch?

I am fortunate to work with guests and members at the Birch. Classes are tailored generally to participants with little or no previous experience. We introduce guests to hand-building processes such as soft slab construction, coiling and pinch pots. There is an opportunity to decorate pots with coloured clay paints and a limited choice of glazes. Feedback from guests is positive and enthusiastic. We have introduced wheel-thrown pottery sessions recently that have been well attended. A remarkable aspect of this type of class is how unique the dynamic is between each class and a common factor is the joy, fun and sense of exploration this activity generates. Classes are popular with families and friends and corporate visitors have enjoyed the benefits of getting their hands stuck into clay as part of team-building sessions. All completed work is fired and sent home as a lasting souvenir!


Do you teach pottery anywhere else?

I teach a small number of hours at the University of Hertfordshire. Luke Fuller & I are starting ‘Clay Makers’; pop up’ – pottery classes around Hertfordshire. We will be sharing our clay-making experience with our neighbourhood community.

Are you working on any commissions at the moment?

Apart from ‘ Clay Makers’, I am progressing a project, started before lockdown, that hopefully will result in a large-scale glass sculpture.






Best piece of advice you have been given?

I have received lots of good advice but not always listened;

‘If you want to earn a dollar you must climb a tree and holla!’ ‘Prepare the ground; even though it may never rain…….’ ‘Give Tone to Form and Form to Tone’ The edict to ‘follow your heart’ is probably the advice I would pass on

If you had a free day in London to do what you want, where would you go?

This question brings a sense of nostalgia for the London that no longer exists, and the London that I have enjoyed ‘all that London has to offer’ with family and friends. I remember hand-made clothes shops and affordable tailoring, The Rosslyn Arms, Marine Ices, the Bull & Gate, Kentish Town, where one could enjoy great live music and possibly the best pint of Guinness in town!

The Roundhouse is now a thriving creative hub at the centre of London’s cultural life, which is very exciting to see, following many challenging years to fulfill the obvious potential of the place.

My fantasy free day in London would start with a walk in any London Park or across the Heath, meeting with friends at a gallery or museum, a matinee at the Globe theatre or a film at the French Institute, then supper at the Chelsea Arts Club, followed by a walk along the South Bank to the Angel Pub at Rotherhithe for last orders.

Gazing at a full moon above Tower Bridge and thinking about generations who have passed along the river throughout time and continues too; the river itself becomes a metaphor for many aspects of London life & history.

To find out more information on Paul visit https://www.paulrowbottom.com

To find out more information on pottery classes with Paul at the Birch visit: https://www.birchcommunity.com

Photography by Nyla Sammons

#birch #paulrowbottom #pottery

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