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Tim Thornton

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Artwork for Tim Thornton

Small unglazed bowl

Serving platter

Large moon jar

Small moon jar

Drought jar

Bottle vase


Soup bowl


How would you describe the work you do and why?: 

I create both functional and sculptural vessels evoking a sense of timelessness; of having been shaped, worn, and eroded over the centuries by the forces of nature. My work reflects nature’s variability and imperfections, transformed into objects for everyday use, or desirable décor collections.
I try to make pieces that evoke an emotional response in those that see or use them, and that have enough interest and complexity that people are always find new things in their form or surface.

For you what does being an artist mean?: 

Working in ceramics, there is an inherent tension between two very different aspects of clay.
First, it is a very malleable and immediate material, and pieces can be made with a spontaneity and with a directness of interaction that is not so readily available with other materials. This enables me to put more of myself and my emotions into each piece.
Secondly, ceramics is a highly technical craft, and this satisfies my more scientific and analytical self, for example in developing new glazes or perfecting firing schedules.
The nack is to keep these two aspects in balance, so that mastering the technical aspects is an enabler for the more expressive side, rather than becoming an end in itself.

Describe what you call yourself/your practice?: 

Tim Thornton Ceramics

Your practice & activities include e.g workshops, teaching: 

My work is generally based on standard vessel forms - bowls, plates, bottles, jars and vases. They are created using a mix of throwing, coiling, slab building and carving, resulting in loose, organic shapes; often multiple methods are used on a piece to achieve the desired shape. Sometimes the clay is worked or found materials added to give a more textured and tactile finish.

I use a variety of surface treatments to get the desired effect: areas may be left bare to acquire colour and texture from the flames and ashes of the kiln; or the work may be coated with one or more layers of slips and glazes to produce variegation across the surface or have a textural surface. Glazes often incorporate wood ash, local clays or rocks, whose impurities and varied compositions add to the rich complexity of the finished piece. I am always experimenting and developing new glaze recipes.

I use a number of different types of kiln, and fire at varying temperatures, to bring out the required firing effects – wood fired, gas, electric and raku kilns are all used. Some pieces are fired multiple times, with layers of glaze added between each firing.

I spend a day a week at Cup Ceramics in Hereford, primarily as a technician but also helping out the members in their making as needed.

I run a number of technical courses for ceramicists, primarily online but also in person, which attract students from all over the world. I also post regularly on Instagram an Facebook about technical aspects of ceramics.

CV & Education, relevant & leading to your artistic practice: 

I have been making pots for over 12 years, becoming a full-time potter in 2019, after an initial career in yacht design and marine research.
I began with evening classes - I wanted to get back into making things and, to be honest, ceramics seemed the best out of a limited set of options in the area. But I quickly became hooked and spent increasing amounts of time studying and making ceramics, and after a few years set up my own studio. I am largely self taught, aided by going to workshops run by leading potters once or twice a year.
In 2021 I moved my studio from the south of England to just outside of Hereford.
I am a member of South Wales Potters and the Craft Potters Association.

Exhibitions in the last 3 years: 

h.Art 2022 (at Cup Ceramics)
Hereford River Carnival
Ceramica Botanica, National Botanic Garden of Wales
Bishop's Kitchen, Southern Ceramics Group - Chichester
Mudeford Arts Festival

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