Artwork for John West
The ruggedness of the slips combined with the natural flame, bring out an ancient earthy quality
Teapot, wood fired and soda glazed using local materials
John West at the wheel
I call these serving baskets, wonderful with vegetables or fruit
Dish with handles, 30cm wide wood fired, soda glazed apple ash interior lining glaze with cobalt rim
Two mugs illustrating the flow of the flame, and the soda across the surface
Bottle, 40cm tall facetted carving, woodfired and soda glazed using locally found materials for slip decoration
The catenary arch kiln takes 18 hours to fire using mainly larch and pine. Top temperature is 1300 degrees C
From the moment that I started making, I was instantly drawn to wood firing and salt glazed pottery but it is only since we moved to The Studio that I have been able to build a kiln and make the dream come true. I collect clays and other materials for slips and glazes. Combined with the natural flame this brings about an almost alchemical quality to my work.
I have a problem referring to myself as an artist. I would much prefer to be thought of as a craftsman. I might relate to what I do artistically, but being a craftsman feels more honest to me.
I think of myself as a studio potter.
Principally I am a maker. I make functional pottery made to be loved and made with love. In that sense, I see beauty as also being one of those functions. Most of my work is thrown on the wheel, altered, decorated and fired with wood, with bicarbonate of soda sprayed into the flame towards top temperature leaving an iridescent coating as glaze.
From the very early days I taught young adults with Learning Difficulties at a residential college near Stroud. In 1999 I was invited to open an outreach pottery workshop, Lansdown Pottery, at the former Art College in the town centre with my wife Penny. In 2013 we moved to our present home, where we continued to make our domestic stoneware range whilst I developed my woodfired and soda glazed pots.
I started pottery in 1981, 40years ago. I have had the pleasure to be at workshops and masterclasses run by David and Margaret Frith, Shozo Michikawa, Rizu Takhashi and Ken Matsuzaki, amongst others. I was also able to attend the final year of the 'Forest of Dean College course',
For a number of years now, I have exhibited my work through Potfest, Earth and Fire and other national events. My work has also been displayed at group exhibitions at the International Ceramic Festivals in Aberystwyth, and through the Westcountry Potters' Association. Last year I exhibited at the Haymakers' Gallery in Hay on Wye
My work can be found at Potters in Bristol, Made in Stroud and I have a showroom at my studio. I also attend a number of pottery festivals throughout the year.