TOAST Magazine

Workspace | Rowena Brown

STYLE & STORIES

For this month’s workspace we interviewed Rowena Brown, the potter behind our little clay houses...

Tell us about your work...

I work in sculptural ceramics. Much of my work is concerned with architectural spaces. Through these sculptures of archetypal houses and buildings I explore themes of self, and the dichotomy between isolation and community. The houses are intended as objects for contemplation and to provoke reminiscence.

What materials do you use?

The houses are made from a black clay. The walls are decorated with coloured slips and glazes, the roofs are left the matte dark colour of the undecorated clay. I have developed an approach to decoration and firing that results in multi- layered surfaces. While alluding to environmental damage and abandonment, this also creates a visual interest to draw the onlooker in.

Where and how did you learn your craft?

I started aged 13 at Saturday morning pottery classes, and although my first career was in fashion design I continued to pursue my interest in making things out of clay at evening classes and at home on the kitchen table. A two year spell living in California saw me taking up making and exhibiting my sculpture full time and on my return to the UK I took an MA in Fine Art Ceramics.

Describe your workspace...

My workspace for the past ten years or so has been a studio shed at the bottom of my South London garden. The interior walls are covered with images of buildings, generally in varying states of dilapidation and ruin. The large windows look out to the green calm of a suburban garden. I am in the process of moving to a Hebridean island where my new studio will look out onto a wilder blue and grey scene of sea and sky and where I hope to find a different kind of calm.

What inspires you, both in your work and life in general?

After all these years of making, the creative process is still what inspires me. I love spending my days in the studio sculpting, decorating, experimenting. I like the combination of having creative control and letting the unpredictability of the ceramic process play its part. I look at and photograph buildings, particularly abandoned structures with their history-revealing surfaces, and use this to inform my work. This often takes me to the wild coastal places that I love.

Shop Rowena Brown's clay houses.

Images by Johnny Millar.

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