Blake Woman - Hannah Bould

Tell us a bit about yourself, and your life so far...

I was born in London and still live and work here. I studied Illustration at Camberwell College of Art and after graduating went on to work at a Fine Art printmaking studio for 6 years. I now make functional stoneware pottery out of my studio in my parents garden in Archway and have been running my own business for the past year.

How/Where did you learn pottery making?

I first did pottery as a child at an after school pottery class, where I would make coil pots and weird sculptures but first threw on the wheel 3 years ago at an evening class, run by Stuart Carey and held in the same building where I worked in Hoxton. After graduating I had a bit of a lull in making my own work and wanted a new outlet, I got completely addicted to throwing and making functional objects as opposed to something purely decorative. I was given a second hand wheel and slowly started filling my parents shed with pottery equipment, where I was able to experiment and hone my skills.

What has been the biggest struggle/hurdles?

A couple of years ago I was making a body of work for my first sale, I’d been making for a couple of months and was just unloading my last kiln load onto my shelving unit when the whole thing fell off the wall and smashed about 50 pieces of work. I was absolutely devastated at the time but looking back it was a pivotal moment for me and my ceramic career- I ended up remaking all of the pieces in 2 days and noticed the quality of the work had improved, the pressure of a deadline had forced me to think clearly and refine my skills.

Talk us through your daily routine.

I get to the studio around 8:30 and depending on what projects I’ve got going on, I like to throw until about midday. If the weather’s nice I let the pots dry outside in the sunshine so I can turn and trim them later that afternoon. Later I’ll do a bit of glazing, decorating, attaching handles or packing orders. Last thing I do before I leave around 6:30 is unload and reload the kiln, firing overnight as it gets very hot when the kiln is on.

Can you tell us what you are working on at the moment?

At the moment I’m working through a long list of wholesale orders, namely an exclusive range I’m doing with the Conran Shop. Alongside that I’m excited to be making work for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park shop, as well as some personal commissions and a new collaboration with Roco.

Who is your typical customer / client?

I’m not sure that I have one, I’m always surprised at the variety of people that are interested in ceramics. I think it’s appealing to buy a piece of art that is relatively affordable yet functional, I think that applies to most people.

Top 5 female artists:

Both past and present!

Ray Eames

Barbara Hepworth

Martha Ellen Smith - tattooist

Helen Levi - Ceramicist

Karen Bunting - Ceramicist

How would you describe your style?

I’d say it’s quite simple. Since making prints, I’ve always worked in black and white and I think that automatically gives my work a signature. I like a mixture of geometric and painterly mark making and whilst I like to make each piece unique, there is a definite theme holding them all together, one that I hope is clear, bold and playful.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I don’t like to think too far ahead really, up until now I’ve made decisions as I’ve gone along, things have evolved organically and my business has grown at a rate I can keep up with. I love what I do and would welcome any new challenge, something like an artist residency would be amazing!

And last but not least, what tip would you give to young women who are embarking the same journey?

For me there has been a lot of trial and error so I’ve learnt to be patient, there are so many variables that can go wrong in Ceramics so I think it’s important to enjoy experimenting and learning. I’d also really recommend doing an apprenticeship; last summer I spent two months working in New York for Helen Levi, it was invaluable not only because I learnt a lot of technical skill from her but also I gained confidence in my own work and clarity in what I wanted to achieve.

 

Text and photos by Thea C. Sneve Løvstad

 

Blake Woman, InspireThea Lovstad