CR meets: Amanda Tong & Tilly Hemingway

The Urban Village Fete – London’s take on the traditional summer fete – is returning to Greenwich Peninsula for a second year this weekend. Ahead of the festivities, CR meets two young ceramists who will be exhibiting there

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© Amanda Tong

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Amanda Tong established her ceramic practice professionally straight after graduating from Central Saint Martins’ BA Ceramic Design course two years ago.

My cross-cultural background increasingly serves as inspiration to my design work.
I was born into an eastern culture and educated in the west. As a designer-maker, I aspire to raise awareness and appreciation in the artistic value of traditional craftsmanship by retelling forgotten stories and reintroducing ritual practices behind different cultures. I first experienced the subject of ceramics when I was 14. From hand building some random sculptures during college to now becoming a ‘real’ ceramist for a year and a half after graduating, I’m grateful to have found my lifetime hobby from an early age.

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© Amanda Tong

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I’ve been working with the marbling technique since I graduated.
Each of my ceramic pieces is wheel-thrown by mixing black stoneware and porcelain together, creating a material metaphor that reflects the importance of the Chinese philosophical concept of Yin and Yang – a spiritual approach in gaining health through food. I love risk-taking. Working with different types of clay allows me to uncover the boundless possibilities and revealing the hidden qualities within.

My studio is in Wood Green in North London.
It’s a shared studio space with lots of talented crafts makers. I often describe myself as a ‘one-man band’ and I think it’s important to go through this stage to get to learn as much as possible. As any craftsperson will relate to, as well as making all the work, I need to keep up with all my admin, marketing and social media. That’s why it’s great to share a studio with lots of experienced makers; whenever you get stuck, you always have somebody there to help!

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© Amanda Tong

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My university choices were all academic because I thought making ceramics wasn’t going to earn me a living.
Coming from an Asian culture where everything is so money-driven, many of us were expected to do something related to business or finance. Then my friend reminded me of something very important – he said, ‘if you love the subject that much, you will find ways to make a living out of it.’ Through using this medium, I’m constantly reminded of the importance of maintaining a persistent and positive approach to life, which is a key message I wish to deliver through my work.

amanda-tong.com

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© Tilly Hemingway

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Tilly Hemingway is a predominantly self-taught ceramist who creates hand-thrown vessels. She started making around two and a half years ago. 

I started out taking drop-in classes in pottery at Hackney City Farm.
I was hand building for a year before mustering up the courage to have a go on wheel – scared that I would be useless. Finally, I booked myself in for a 2 hour one-to-one session, and, by the end, I was hooked. I started going more regularly, posting items I’d made on my Instagram page and eventually found myself getting interest from independent shops. I then found a shared ceramics studio in Wood Green and set off from there.

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© Tilly Hemingway

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I work on my ceramics outside of my full time job.
I’m a partner in my family’s multidisciplinary design firm, HemingwayDesign. I read Urban Design at UCL and still very much enjoy working on regeneration projects as well as interior and product design. Eventually I’d like to have more of a balance between the two and start producing more ceramic work. We are looking at getting a wheel for the design studio; I’m sure I’ll be glued to it then!

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© Tilly Hemingway

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Being able to throw exact multiples of the same item was a big step for me.
I’ve never had much patience and spending a few hours making the same item requires it. I’d like to improve my throwing skills so that I can produce larger pieces and learn more about glazing techniques.

I’m not great at PR but Instagram has been amazing.
Most of my stockists have found me through Instagram. It has also allowed me to develop a loyal customer base and see what items are most popular. Most of all, it is a great community, where you get to follow and form relationships with other ceramists and designer-makers.

tillyhemingwayceramics.com

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© Urban Village Fete

© Urban Village Fete

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Enjoy Greenwich Peninsula’s  Urban Village Fete on Sunday 15 May; urbanvillagefete.co.uk

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