This week we take a closer look at the gorgeous ceramic art of another of our crafters, R. J. Laurenson. Here she talks about how she gets inspiration from the Kent countryside, why she loves working with textiles and how having a baby gave her the chance to get up to some serious craft.
How did you get into crafting?
I fell back into art after my daughter was born and her grandmother kindly agreed to baby sit for me to attend Adult Education. It started with French classes for a year and then I decided to do pottery. It was love at first touch! I spent many years making pots and progressed to the sculpture classes where we would have models to work from. I took my portfolio to the University of Kent and was accepted as a mature student on their Fine Art degree course. From there I fell into teaching but have always tried to keep up my own practice.
Who and what inspire you to create?
I am inspired by my surroundings; I live in a little village at the bottom of the North Downs, so I create lots of my art based on nature and local wildlife. I dabble with different mediums: ceramics, textiles, maps and stitch and always try to create layers in my work.
Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
I love Grayson Perry, who I was lucky enough to meet at the British Museum! I admire artists who are confident of their ability. I am very self-critical and feel like I am a ‘jack of all trades and master of none.’
When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
I haven’t fully made the leap yet. I exhibit with fellow artists biannually at the Horsebridge Gallery in Whitstable. It is always a tremendous success and inspires me to produce more art. I attend several markets and discovered Emporia through one in Ashford, which is how my ceramics came into the shop. I still really enjoy my teaching and love that I can have both sides of an art practice
Name three of your most popular designs.
At the moment my ceramic tiles and plates are most popular. I use layers of stencilling and bright food-safe glazes with images of hares, horses, butterflies and birds over the top. They are unique, affordable pieces that are only made in limited quantities and are ideal as presents. When I do exhibitions, I sell a lot of textile pieces, which use old map. They are sentimental and nostalgic and people love seeing their local area exhibited in a gallery; I think it gives them a personal connection to the work. I have also been commissioned to make personal sculptures and ceramics for customers.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing with your time?
I love playing tennis and pottering around the house working on projects that I usually don’t finish.
What’s new with your craft for 2016? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop or at the Emporia market this year.
I am planning on continuing to create new ceramic designs and I have a market coming up in September at Hever Castle. Now that I am on summer holidays, I am looking forward to getting back into my workshop and spending some time on creating some new clay sculptures.