BONSOIR | INTERVIEW
We spoke to Jo Davies, a ceramic artist about her craft and creative inspiration. Read the interview to find out how you can learn from Jo this season.
1. How did you first get into the ceramic art form?
When I was at school I had an amazing teacher called Glenys Major who encouraged me when she could see I was really enjoying using clay - even though I was quiet as a mouse and basically hiding in a corner with my bag of clay. At that point it was all very broad and my initial education was all about art, sculpture and the history of art. The education in the history of ceramics and designing objects came later with my ceramics degree at Bath School of Art and MA from the Royal College of Art. In those early days I just knew that I loved to manipulate the material and the sense of autonomy it gave me was really important to me at that time - it was all very low tech with a small set of boxwood tools and my hands being the main way to shape it.
2. Where do you find inspiration and what is your creative process?
To be honest, these days, one object leads to another. What I mean by this is that each new design is an ‘improvement’ or re-working of the previous ideas. It’s this that gives a creative practitioner a voice rather than a haphazard set of items. Occasionally I feel the need to go out and seek something new for an injection of excitement but the majority of development in my practice happens at the wheel in the studio without drama. I don’t draw my designs and never really have, the wheel is my drawing board. However, I have drawn a lot in the past and still have reams of sketchbooks and portfolios but drawing for me has always had the function of helping me to look and understand shapes of many kinds - this understanding is then percolated into objects that I make rather than having a direct relationship with them.
3. What’s the most rewarding thing about your work?
Something I’m missing a lot at the moment is interaction with the public during my exhibitions. This is a great aspect of what I do because the feedback reminds me what it’s all about - knowing that the things I’ve made are going to good homes and making space in the studio for me to make more!
4. Do you have any dream projects?
I would love a beautiful space to create an installation of my vessels and lighting for, particularly a space that has heritage highlights so any contemporary design additions I can produce being really highlighted. I could design and make items that were unique and proportional to the space in order to make a truly impactful scene. In short, this dream projects would clearly be quite theatrical!
5. Who is the most inspirational person in your life?
My Mum was the most inspirational person in my life, sadly no longer with us.
6. Favourite or dream holiday destination?
Right now - almost anywhere! However, I hope to go to Japan some time in the not too distant future as it’s a major centre for ceramics and I have some research I would like to do for a book I’m writing on Kilns. However, in terms of a pure holiday destination, I would absolutely love to go to the Maldives for the azure sea, sand and cocktails!
7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Never give in to persistence - my mother told me this as a young teenager. If your instinct is telling you that you don’t want to do something then it’s usually right. I have found this applies across both professional and personal situations and I rely on it often.
8. How do you relax at the end of a long day?
At the end of each day I take quite a long walk - around 45 minutes to an hour. As I work from home mostly this helps me to define my working day from my evening and I absolutely love it. It also keeps me fit and helps me to meditate and breath - with music or a funny podcast in my headphones.
More About Jo
Jo's ceramic classes are up and running again. Learn from scratch how to throw on a potter’s wheel, improve your technique or master a skill with a ceramics class at Jo Davies’ Studio in East London. All classes are small.