Devon has been my home for over twenty years. I couldn't have imagined ever wanting to live elsewhere until now as I have moved to south west Scotland with my potter wife, Hannah McAndrew. In Devon and now in Galloway the workshops have been hidden deep in the countryside and the surrounding natural environment fills me with inspiration and wonder.
I work in red earthenware clay, the pots simply decorated, with appliqué decoration or sgrafitto, using a basic palette of traditional slips, made from natural raw materials. Some of the clay is dug from rich seams, found in the field beside where the Devon workshop was – the same seams that have been exploited for thousands of years by the craftsmen before me. It is my intention eventually to make my entire production from this beautiful, native clay.
My pots are thrown on the wheel and then fired either in a small electric kiln or on several special occasions during the year, in a kiln fuelled with wood.
The forms, predominantly large jugs, draw influence from the work of the medieval potters of England and the subsequent tradition of slip decorated country pottery, that was prevalent in this country until the early twentieth century. The skills presented by the master craftspeople of the past set an extraordinary high standard to which the contemporary maker must aspire. To seek to find one’s own distinctive voice amongst many who are using the same language, is a challenge that I take upon myself each and every day.
I’ve been making pots for most of my life. It’s a strange thing, to be excited by something as simple as a brown clay jug and I can’t explain it, but it seems that it happens to some people; it just gets under your skin.
Hannah is an award winning Scottish slipware potter, produces a range of hand thrown earthenware pots using slipware techniques. Based in South West Scotland and in Mid Devon, Hannah shares workshops with fellow potter and now husband, Douglas Fitch. Both use the traditional techniques of slip trailing, sgraffito and firing with wood to create a contemporary range of pots.
‘Hannah McAndrew makes the kind of pots that give me warm glow inside, they are pots I can imagine using myself with great enjoyment everyday. Her work retains a very strong connection to the historical slipwares seen in museum collections, strong forms with balanced decoration that make the most of the natural characteristics of clay and glazes. The decoration has a refined sophistication that gives her pots a contemporary edge.’