Victoria Claire Dawes creates Decorative Tableware and display pieces for the home.
“Using terracotta and slip, I make tableware inspired by memories of my home. Drawn from a romanticised nostalgia for people, places and traditions. Snippets of banister spindles, soft drapery, embroidery and loose pyjamas decorate pieces to be used and shared around today’s tables”.
Read more about Victoria from our Interview:
1. How and when did you want to be a maker and how did you start to realise that aim?
I have always been a maker – most of my early memories involve the putting together of something; strings of daisies, pieces of Kinex, driftwood and shells, rolls and rolls of Sellotape! Specifically a maker in clay was decided when I stepped into Ceramics1 as an elective at Northland College in Wisconsin from day one I was happy to spend all of my hours trying to make a 6" cylinder with a right angle at the floor and even walls throughout. A single minded persistence had found me – I changed my major to Studio Art and spent my three remaining years planning my courses around maximising the time I could spend in the ceramics studio trying to get better. I spent a lot of time scoping out places where I could meet other potters, talk, ask questions, and handle their pots. The single focus of ceramics took me on adventures across America and when it came to the end of my visa access to a Ceramics studio determined my move to Sheffield.
2. Who did you learn from, who inspires you? What or who were your early influences and how has your life/upbringing influenced your work?
I was taught by Anna Metcalfe – she encouraged me to research other contemporary ceramic artists and introduced me to many of her friends who have also become teachers and mentors. Throughout my life I have always liked making things that work, I made fans with the Kinex, chimes with the driftwood and shells, barbeques from old bricks and oven racks. Pots for drinking, eating, serving, cooking, pouring fall at the heart of a home. My family emigrated to New Zealand when I was nine. It was once the cereal bowls, small juice glasses, cutlery, tea towels and placemats arrived that our house started to feel somewhat like home. The way that an everyday object can take you back to a very specific moment in time – the conjuring of a place, smells, sounds and the people inside it is the underlying motivation behind my work. I make pieces that use snippets of objects I can remember. New pieces that function around the table and in the home, pieces that I hope will become apart of another families memories.
3. What is your chosen medium and what are your technique? Tell us about your process and what environment you like to work in?
I am a Studio Potter - Making pots that are predominantly thrown on the wheel. I use earthenware, slip and coloured underglazes. Earthenware – the most abundant clay on the Earth's surface. Through its formation process the clay travels through glaciers, rivers and streams – breaking down and picking up oxides and detritus that provide its rich colour and low firing properties. Having emigrated between England and New Zealand at an early age, choosing to travel and study in the Upper Midwest of America, I feel connected to earthenware as a material affected and formed by the places it has passed through. Once thrown and trimmed my pots are covered in a layer of white slip – this can be dipped, brushed or poured, depending on the form and the fired finish I am looking for. Varying thicknesses of the same slip are used to create sections within the round surfaces, little bits of bright underglazes are added along with brushstrokes of terracotta – all of these marks create groundwork for sgrafitto carving. Using a variety of tools I carve back through the slip – defining shapes and adding detailed patterns. The sharper finer lines of the sgrafitto make sense of the looser bolder marks originally applied in slip. Last summer I faced some major material challenges with the ingredients in my glaze recipe. After a few months of testing I have started to use a new glaze – the slightly higher temperature and glossy glaze finish eats through the thinner layers of slip leaving behind deeper more atmospheric surfaces. What was a time intensive overhaul at the time has resulted in a significant aesthetic development – richer deeper surfaces that speak of the material and the fluidity of my decorating process. Made Canary Wharf is the first time these new pots will be exhibited.