Becoming a potter
A full time professional potter in the UK for 17 years, in fact I've been a potter for 53 years, making my first coil pot at school, age 12. Being at boarding school, I had access to the pottery workshop most afternoons, and soon was given a key to have access at any time - several staff members, and a business in town, bought my work, even then.
There was also a pottery group at Cambridge, which I helped facilitate to move to new premises next door to Kettles Yard, a centre for the Arts established by Jim Ede in his own house.
Becoming a self sufficient small holder in West Wales did not leave time and energy for art - but when that life came to an end, and all the livestock were sold, I began to make pots again, for its own sake, converting half the (in any case improvised) 'house' back from a calf shed and hay barn, to a pottery workshop. Having made many pots I needed, and bought, a kiln. Then I had to learn from scratch, how to test and make glazes - so that adventure began.
Soon it was essential to try to sell some work, to pay expenses, live, and make room for more. A local Fishguard gallery run by Myles Pepper took me on; needing to find more outlets, I sent photos to a selection of Craft Council selected Galleries around the UK. Appointments were made and I set off with a transit van full of pots. First stop, Peter Dingley in Stratford on Avon. After a 2 hour lecture about why these pots, my earliest ones, might not be quite good enough to stand up next to Hans Coper, Lucie Rie, John Ward, and the like, he bought one. That was the beginning.
It turned out that Peter came anyway to Wales to buy from John Ward, who lived nearby, so visited me as well, and bought increasing numbers (uniquely, there was no 'on consignment' with him!). Having John as a neighbour was a constant source of inspiration, and friendship.
The last stop on that first trip was to Beaux Arts, Bath. After unloading a group of the largest pots, and while Julian was parking the van, a customer to the Gallery asked to buy one of the pots - they took them all and sold them before Christmas.
It was the beginning of a successful career (see bio).
this article by John Rastall, Harlequin Gallery, picks up the story:
Here are two photos of my first workshop at Fachongle Isaf , in Pembrokeshire, UK (taken from old style prints):
This next one is at Bancau, Brynberian, where also two sons were born. 'your best work yet' said one gallery director, on meeting our first baby; I happily agreed to that! (photo by Victor Wilkins)
I used two different potter's marks at Fachongle: the first had a coil of cord around the jks monogram, referring to cord impressed decoration used in some bronze age pottery.
My first Bancau stamp was formed from an impression of the old style front door key
while the second evoked a pair of pots dancing (here shown in extract from British Studio Marks by Eric Yates-Owen and Robert Fournier)
The Glasshouse stamp is a symbol for a quality of dancing in the whole process of making a pot, and was used for most of the pots I made in Australia.
And finally below, the monogram stamp revived for all new work from my Leek workshop