I came across Geoge's work some time ago. The simple elegance of his pieces instantly took me. I saw a peak of his studio in one of his pictures and thought it would be a good idea to have a snoop around—that's what Knock Knock does best. I hope you like me, will find his work a delight and be inspired by his move out of London.
I moved to Somerset eighteen months ago to set up shop in a pottery that belonged to a dear friend who passed away earlier in the year.
I first came to stay at Suki and Rich's home - Parsonage Farm- in 2009 when I was 18 as a WOOFER (a loose network of national organisations that facilitate homestays on organic farms). I had an urge to learn how to be a gardener, but in reality, I was pretty clueless, so I spent most of my time in the house, volunteering to scrub up the Aga, organise the pantry, and cook brekkies for the B&B guests.
Parsonage Farm and its walled garden are a haven; brimming with flowers, veggies, beautiful pottery, and a stream of local friends popping in for coffee. Suki and Rich built a wood-fired pizza oven in the Linhay and, over the summer, would host around 70 locals each Friday for pizzas, BYOB, music, fires. Complete chaos but so much fun. Unsurprisingly I couldn't keep away and came to stay at least twice a year for the next decade.
During that time, my home looked quite different. I spent my twenties working in the Alps, cooking, hosting, managing luxury ski chalets. In 2018, I decided to hang up my ski boots and return to London, where I moved in with my sister and her young family in Islington. I used the dosh I earned as a private cook to join a shared ceramics study in Hackney. I had first tried pottery a few years before whilst having a miserable time at university. I found throwing - similar to cooking - completely addictive. Pots filled my mind and helped me out of the slump I was in at the time.
Fast-forward to the first lockdown of 2020, and I was one of the lucky ones already used to working in my slippers, having recently set up a studio in my sister's stunning conservatory. Charlie shared a pic of mine on her Tat Newsletter, and through the power of Instagram, the commissions started rolling in (thanks, Charlie!). This gave me the resources to focus all my efforts on making pottery - something I really hadn't considered as a viable option beforehand.
Having never had any professional training, my work is very much a developmental progression on speed - a sort of pay as you go training. So I feel for my early customers who generously overlooked the myriad of faults staring at them from my amateur pots. All my pots are thrown on the wheel in stoneware or porcelain clay, which I then hand-paint some with pigmented slip and fire in an electric kiln. I tend to draw inspiration from many corners of the world and pockets in time, but medieval middle eastern ceramics especially takes me. My obsession with a leaf design came after seeing a 12th century Kashan bowl in the V&A.
Like many others, the confinement of lockdown in London eventually took its toll and forced me to think outside the box. Encouraged by the pleading eyes of my dog, Raffi, who was eager for some fresh air - I looked to Somerset. Rich - who had sadly lost dear Suki earlier that year- agreed that I would rent her pottery from him, and here I am today. I feel like the luckiest potter around, taking a break from the pottery and sipping a cuppa under the magnolia tree in the walled garden.
The early Victorian Pottery is attached to the medieval main house, next to a sweet 14th-century church. When I first moved in, the space was gorgeous but in need of a scrub, clear out and lick of paint. It was a much bigger job than I had realised. Fortunately, some kind friends came down to help me blitz the space. Once the ceiling was whitewashed and the shelves and walls brightened up, the space felt much lighter. It's still a bit starved of natural light in the winter, so I painted the inside of the double doors Babouche yellow from Farrow and Ball. Best decision yet!
Last year I commissioned the incredibly talented Mia Warner to paint a hanging sign for the pottery. We took inspiration from some Italian tiles I found online, and Mia did a wonderful job of transcribing the style into my sign.
As the size of the pottery grew, so did the size of the vases and the number of flowers needed to fill them for insta. And so, gardening called once more. It's been a steep learning curve, and my slightly naive attempt to pack my little rented garden full of cutting flowers had mixed results. The sunniest spot in the cottage is the tiny sitting room which was packed with seed trays of leggy cosmos, stubborn sweet peas and forgiving dahlias. It all worked out, sort of, but this year I'm learning and as far as possible, will skip the seed tray stage and am buying seedlings. Sarah Raven to the rescue.
I love living in the Quantocks. Having grown up in mid-Wales, the countryside is similar; rolling hills of lush green, with the bonus of being close to the sea. I rent a cottage a couple of miles from the pottery, snuggled in the garden of a bigger house. The neighbouring farm got a breeding sow and piglets shortly after I moved in, so a new obsession emerged. One day the dream would be to buy somewhere that could have a house, pottery, cut flower garden, pigs and of course, a donkey. Pigs really are the sweetest characters. But, as a millennial, this will all likely stay as a lovely pipe dream #renter4life.
So until then, you'll find me here at the pottery, where visitors are always welcome to pop in and say hi. I'm showing a collection of larger pieces at the wonderful Camilla Moorwood Art home near Bruton, March 12th- 25th 2022.