Maker in Focus – Robyn Hardyman
Robyn Hardyman works with porcelain for its delicacy and strength, and the pure surface it offers for a glaze. Her pieces are thrown thinly, with an attention to every detail, in pursuit of balance and harmony. Surface decoration is minimal – an incised line on a foot or a rim, or slip marks round the swell of a moon jar – and her work can be both functional and decorative.
Robyn is a new member of The Gloucestershire Guild and her work will be shown in our shop in Cheltenham from 3 April in our exhibition New Year, New Members Showcase. We caught up with her to find out more about her practice.
What inspired you to start making ceramics?
It’s something I had wanted to do for many years. I have always loved ceramics, and finally gave myself permission to learn how to make them when I was working freelance in my other career, as an editor and writer of children’s non-fiction.
How did you get into pottery?
I signed up for a course at the Oxford City College, one day a week, with wonderful tutors Jane Hanson and Graham Hudson. After spending three years there I felt ready to set up my own studio, and a couple of years after that I started showing my work in public.
What drew you to porcelain?
I love throwing with porcelain for its unique combination of delicacy and strength. You can throw it finely, its whiteness makes a beautifully pure surface for a glaze, and its translucency is always wonderful.
How do you decide what colours to glaze your pieces?
My palette has always been calm, harmonious colours, which I think suit the restrained forms I throw – cool blues, greys, creams and greens. However I’ve just introduced a vibrant new orange-red glaze, to shake things up a bit.
What inspires the forms of your pieces?
The forms are all-important to me, surface decoration is minimal in my work. I’m inspired by the pared-back forms found in classical oriental ceramics, they so often have those qualities of harmony and balance that I’m aiming for in my work.
What is your newest make? What do you like about it and why is it special?
I’m working on making bigger bowls at the moment, it’s a challenge to prevent the thin porcelain from warping in the kiln, but when they work it’s rewarding to have pieces with presence. I’m enjoying my newest glaze too, as well as being vibrant it has a depth that I like and it actually seems to work well with my other, quieter glazes, too.
What does being part of The Guild mean to you?
I spend a lot of time on my own in my studio, as most makers do, so it’s great to be in a guild with others, to share experiences and knowledge. I’m really looking forward to taking part in events and meeting other makers.
Do you have any events or workshops coming up?
My work is in an exhibition at the Sewell Centre Gallery in Radley at the moment, until 21 March. Called ‘Form and Fluidity’, it features my ceramics alongside the weavings of artist Julia Engelhardt. Then I’ll be getting ready for Oxfordshire Artweeks in May, where I’m showing at home in Oxford. In June I’m exhibiting at the Broadway Arts Festival (9-11 June) and Potfest at Compton Verney (23-25 June), so it’s going to be a busy few months.
What is on your wish list from The Guild shop?
There is so much beautiful work there. But I love Sarah Pulvertaft’s silver Tassel Bangle and Alison Dupernex’s ‘Shiver’ scarf