For this month’s workspace we visited Hannah Bould in her North London studio. Hannah, who began as a print maker, is the potter behind our newest ceramic collection.
Where did you learn to throw?
I attended a weekly evening class run by Stuart Carey in Hoxton. I used to work in a print studio in the same building and wanted a new creative outlet. As soon as I started I was hooked on throwing and found that time just ran out when I was at the wheel. I went on to intern for Stuart and Nicola Tassie, who share a studio, and really honed my skills with them. A family friend, Karen Bunting (also an amazing potter), loaned me her old wheel which I put in my parents' shed - I then put in many hours of practice.
Where did your love of pottery come from?
As a child, I went to after school pottery classes. In these classes we would hand build little sculptures and ornaments - I think my initial love for ceramics came from there, we were encouraged to experiment and there weren’t many rules. Now, I love the knowing that people use my work on a daily basis, that a mug I make might be part of a morning ritual. And I love that pottery has seemingly infinite outcomes and variables, I feel that I am constantly learning. I studied Illustration (at Camberwell UAL) and spent most of my time in the print room, mono printing and etching - this led onto working at the print studio (Paupers Press) for many years after graduation. I see a link between print and pottery and the hands-on nature of both processes appeal to me.
What/who inspires you?
Most of my inspirations are derived from my time in print and all of my patterns and designs were first realised in the print room. I can see a clear trajectory between my prints and my pots, I’ve always been interested in abstract shapes and compositions. Artists like Ben Nicholson, Bryan Ingham, Barbara Hepworth and Henri Matisse have always been favourites of mine, as well as Brutalist architecture, Bauhaus and Eames. As much as I admire ceramic artists and movements, particularly Japanese studio pottery, my knowledge of ceramic work is not extensive, I definitely come at it from a two dimensional angle.
Describe the process of making your ceramics...
I throw all of my pieces on the wheel, I use white stoneware clay and recycle all of my clay and water. I only use black, white or transparent glaze. I either use black slip as decoration but mainly I use varying forms of wax resist. I like the brush to dictate the pattern or design and the shape of the pot to dictate the style.
How did your style come about?
I never really decided on a style or signature for my pottery work, I feel as though it came pre-formed from my days in the print room. In a way, this enabled me to focus on the process and allow the style to come instinctively. My ideal way of working is for every piece to be individual and unique. I love to create a varied collection that is united by colour palette (or lack of it!) but which definitely looks like the same hand has made each one.
Where do you work?
I work in a shed at the bottom of my parents' garden in Archway, North London. To call it a shed is a disservice though - my Dad built it as a print studio for my mum originally and as my business has evolved and grown, they’ve let me take it over - I am very lucky! It’s not massive but I’ve made it work ergonomically - any space that can be used for shelving has been used and everything is where I need it to be. I’ve learnt to work with the space I’ve got - for instance, I have no running water and now I just don’t use a lot of water! I love being in a garden, it makes me feel as if I’m working outside and in the summer I can spill out and have the door open. I love working in there and find myself working 7 days a week, there is no other place I would rather be.
Photography by Roo Lewis.
Shop Hannah Bould ceramics.