An interview with Ceramicist Taz PollardAn interview with Ceramicist Taz Pollard

An interview with Ceramicist Taz Pollard

Taz Pollard is a creator of luxury handmade ceramics for the home and garden. She is a member of Design –Nation since winning the New Designers One year On award in 2014. Design-Nation asked her a few questions about her practice and her experience of winning the New designers Award.

Design-Nation asked: You won New Designers One Year On in 2014 and have been a DN member ever since. Looking back, what impact did that make on your business?

Taz Pollard: It gave me a much needed confidence boost but also there was lots of support and information on preparing for this type of show.

DN: What has been the most interesting thing to happen to you since setting up your business?TP: Probably setting up my studio, North Devon Ceramics Academy

DN: What would you advise new designers who are just starting out and what would you warn them about? And do you have any regrets?

TP: Don’t work too hard; it’s so easy to burn out. Not every opportunity will be right for you so learn to be selective. I don’t have any regrets as such, every project I have been involved in I have learnt from even if it is just to not do it again!

DN: Could you describe your workplace briefly?

TP: My workspace is a timber clad, sustainably built, industrial unit with business centre. It’s a great place to work and doesn’t feel like an industrial estate. The units were originally built to support new creative businesses, things have evolved since then but it still has a great feel. We are lucky to have access to a business centre where we hold lectures and most importantly lunch for our masterclasses.

DN: Where do you get your inspiration from?

TP: Mainly from everyday throw away items and junk.

DN: If you weren't a ceramicist what would you be?

TP: I have been making things out of mud for as long as I can remember so that’s a tricky question but I think I would be a paramedic or a nurse. That may sound a million miles away from what I do now but I originally took human biology at college (along with art and psychology) and have had many jobs in the care sector. Mental health is also something I am passionate about and love that we provide a safe space for people to come and be creative at North Devon Ceramics Academy.

DN: Who has been your most influential teacher or mentor?

TP: Morgan Hall who taught me during my BA hons many years ago

DN: You do some teaching yourself – how do you successfully combine this with making?

TP: It can be hard juggling both but we have bunched the teaching together so that leaves time either side for our own work. I love teaching and it is great to have the buzz of other people in the studio. It really drives my creativity forward.

DN: How do you go about designing new work?

TP: Some pieces grow organically out of other work and sometimes I get an idea, sketch it, mock it up in 3d and then develop it from there.

DN: How do you organise your marketing and do you do it yourself?

TP: I do all my marketing but I do much less now as I prefer to limit the amount of work I produce just focusing on the things I really want to do.

DN: What are your plans for the next twelve months? What’s the most exciting thing coming up – a commission, exhibition or other event?

TP: I am currently working on some new very large-scale sculptures for Celebrating Art in the Garden next June. I also have another big project I am hoping to be working on soon subject to funding, it’s very exciting but I can’t say much about it!

Interview by Laura Jacometti

New Designers One year On applications are now open. Deadline 31st January

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An Interview with Peter LaytonAn Interview with Peter LaytonAn Interview with Peter LaytonAn Interview with Peter Layton

An Interview with Peter Layton

Peter Layton has been at the forefront of British studio glass since the 1970s and has contributed more than most to its promotion and growing success. To celebrate Peter’s 80th birthday and his commitment to the glassblowing craft, Design-Nation asked him a few questions.

Design-Nation: Did you have any early teachers or mentors who encouraged you?

Peter Layton: On graduating from the Central School of Art and Design, I took up a teaching position in ceramics at the University of Iowa. Harvey Littleton, a potter considered to be the father of modern studio glass, had recently set up the first university glassblowing department in Wisconsin. One of his graduates was also teaching at Iowa and I was lucky enough to participate in one of his first summer glassblowing workshops. These early pioneers were certainly strong influences. Once I returned to the UK in 1968, Sam Herman, one of Littleton’s students was also an influence, because he was already working in glass in the UK.

DN: Tell us about the history of your studio, London Glassblowing.

PL: Founded in 1976, at Rotherhithe on the river Thames beside the Mayflower, we later moved to the Leathermarket, and are now located on Bermondsey Street, since 2009. We were already a firm fixture in South London, having spent the first 15 years in Rotherhithe and the next 15 were spent in the Leathermarket in Weston Street near London Bridge.

The move to Bermondsey Street was a very lucky progression – by far the best move we could have made, providing the only public access glassblowing studio in London. Bermondsey Street with its village atmosphere, its amazing restaurants, excellent galleries and quirky shops has something of the feel of Soho, New York – I like its vibrancy and ‘buzz’ and the sense of an area on the ‘up’.

DN: What do you consider to be your career highlights?

PL: The enormously influential triennial international Symposia at Novy Bor in the 1980’s as well as other symposia in Russia, Germany, France and Japan. Participation in these events was hugely inspirational - I felt that my contribution to these important glass events was hugely appreciated by the international community.

DN: Are there any individuals who have contributed significantly to your success?

PL: Glassblowing is very much a team activity and each individual who has worked at London

Glassblowing over the years has made a significant contribution. There are many and selecting any one over any other is impossible.

DN: Are there particular works you are most proud of?

PL: At one of the Novy Bor symposia, in 1988, I created within a few days, a two metre high glass pyramid, constructed from hot cast glass bars. It was met with huge acclaim and I am told that it is still standing today in the national collection.

DN: London Glassblowing has a great track record of working with emerging talent. Please tell us more about how this works and who you've worked with.

PL: London Glassblowing, by its existence alone, has provided a working environment for a great number of young aspiring glass artists, who have benefitted from the opportunity to develop their talent. This includes Siddy Langley, Tim Rawlinson, Laura McKinley, Anthony Scala, Jochen Ott and Bruce Marks to name but a few.

We also give an Emerging Talent Award at the British Glass Biennale, Harry Morgan and Monette Larsen being the first two recipients.

DN: Who are the ones to watch in glassblowing now and where should we go to see their work?

PL: What an honour and privilege to have known and worked with artists like Louis Thompson, who so impressed us last year with his sensitive and thought provoking installations in ‘Reflection’ at Salisbury Cathedral - he is certainly one to watch.

There is a plethora of amazing ideas and visual interpretations of the medium in my studio -

from the finely polished, intricate optical works by Anthony Scala and Jochen Ott to the complex colour works by Tim Rawlinson and Layne Rowe and hot sculpted works by Elliot Walker. Laura McKinley, currently studying at the RCA is also one to watch in the future. We the pioneering generation are being overtaken by incredibly talented young stars. This is entirely as it should be.

The contemporary glass world is vibrant and growing and I feel that the future looks very bright.

DN: What are you working on now and what does the future hold?

PL: I am currently working on a new sculptural series on the theme of clouds, as well as a wall installation based on Sunflowers, for Collect 2018 at the Saatchi Gallery. I hope to develop my Burano series for ‘Blowing Hot and Cold’, a show we are holding in May in our gallery on Bermondsey Street.

Interview by Laura Jacometti



1988, Peter Layton casting the bars for Pyramid, Novy Bor

1988, Pyramid cast glass by Peter Layton, Novy Bor

Blue Lunar landscape by Peter Layton. Photography by Ester Segarra

Cloud by Peter layton and James Devereux. Photography by Ester Segarra

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