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Welcome to Ceramic Review

Ceramic Review is the magazine for contemporary and historical ceramics, ceramic art and pottery.


Ceramic Review Issue 300

November/December 2019

In this video, potter Jack Doherty takes us step-by-step through the processes he uses to throw a large porcelain bowl at his studio in Cornwall, which he then soda-fires in a gas kiln. Discover how Jack makes and fires his work in the full step-by-step masterclass inside CR 300 (November/December 2019)

I finished my ceramics training in Belfast in 1971 and have worked as a potter for almost 50 years. Someone recently mentioned to me that it is unusual these days for someone to spend their working life in the same job. While making pots has always been at the core of my life, ceramics has given me many opportunities beyond the studio. To learn new things, to travel and teach, and to be involved in projects that have created new opportunities for makers to promote and sell their work.

I was Chair of the Craft Potters Association (CPA) for a total of 12 years and was involved with the first CPA fair in Cheltenham and one of the small team who helped establish Earth and Fire at Rufford. I was a founder member and Chair of the Ceramic Art London organising committee. At that time, I felt very conscious of the need for a fresh platform to celebrate the expanding range of contemporary ceramics. A highlight of that period was my year as guest editor of Ceramic Review. In November 2019, I will be leading the first International Soda-firing Ceramics Festival at Fuping in Shaanxi, China.

Work by Jack Doherty; Photograph by Layton Thompson

Work by Jack Doherty; Photograph by Layton Thompson

My work life (I refuse to call it a career) has for years been on a geographical downward direction. It started at the top of the map of the British Isles, I was born on the north coast of Northern Ireland, but have gradually slipped south via Kilkenny, Armagh and Herefordshire to Cornwall. I went to St Ives as the first lead potter and creative director at the refurbished Leach Pottery. I now live and work in Mousehole, Cornwall.

While making pots has always been at the core of my life, ceramics has given me many opportunities beyond the studio.

Over time, my making process has become simpler. Porcelain clay, copper and a single firing with sodium bicarbonate are self-imposed limitations that have in many ways provided a wealth of colour and surface quality. I have found working with fewer ingredients is not restricting but means I have to use them more thoughtfully, finding new colours with layers of the same slip. Learning about the changes to the surface and colour that varying the kiln atmosphere or firing the kiln half a cone higher or lower will make.

Everything I make has a domestic context in one way or another. The pots I admire the most are pieces that have often been made for a specific and sometimes mundane purpose. However, through their connection with people and being made using a magical combination of materials, extraordinary skill and chance, they have become objects with emotional and spiritual value. For me, the truest form of ceramic art.

Discover how Jack makes and fires his work in the full step-by-step masterclass inside CR 300 (November/December 2019).

Videos and photographs by Layton Thompson