Ceram­i­cist & Print­maker

This dy­namic cre­ative com­bines ceram­ics with print­mak­ing in her ele­gantly lay­ered ves­sels and mono­prints, which ex­plore the chang­ing British coast­line


Be­hind the scenes with cre­ative Han­nah Toun­send.

In­spired by our ever-chang­ing, weather-worn British shores, and pas­sion­ate about the com­plex com­bi­na­tion of slip cast with thrown clay, multi-award­ing win­ning ceram­i­cist Han­nah Toun­send is quickly es­tab­lish­ing a rep­u­ta­tion as one to watch.

Cre­ativ­ity was all around me grow­ing up. The top floor of our home had a ded­i­cated craft room and I spent hours mod­el­ling clay and paint­ing. My dad would write po­etry and short sto­ries, and mum was al­ways test­ing her art teach­ing projects on my sis­ter and me.

“At school, be­ing a cre­ative didn’t seem a pos­si­bil­ity. My world was more fo­cused on sci­en­tific sub­jects. I com­pleted three years of a five-year vet­eri­nary course at Glas­gow Univer­sity, then took a year’s sab­bat­i­cal, to re­group, lift my eyes and re­con­nect with my cre­ativ­ity. I moved home to Le­ices­ter­shire, took a part-time art foun­da­tion course at De Mont­fort Univer­sity and, by chance, walked through the ceram­ics de­part­ment. It felt like an epiphany.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from my BA Hons course spe­cial­is­ing in ceram­ics,i worked as a home­ware de­signer for Next. Ul­ti­mately though, I missed be­ing more hands-on, so I set up my own stu­dio for a few years, be­fore go­ing on to com­plete an MA in Fine Art by In­de­pen­dent Study. This en­abled me to in­dulge my love of slip cast­ing and throw­ing, and de­velop my hy­brid tech­nique that com­bines both. It also gave me time to test the im­pact of glazes and colour pal­ettes in depth.

I have al­ways been drawn to the coast – for me, it is a place of re­flec­tion. My ves­sel and mono­print de­signs, just like the coast­line, are con­structed from lay­ers of hor­i­zon­tals – a band­ing struc­ture of lines from sand, sea, hori­zon and sky. I am at­tracted to the vis­ual and struc­tural ten­sion that ex­ists at the hori­zon, and be­tween land and sea. There’s a phys­i­cal ten­sion in my ves­sels be­tween the clay sec­tions which nods to this.

My coast­line in­spi­ra­tions are cap­tured via draw­ings, pho­to­graphs and wa­ter­colours. Sketches evolve from the semi re­al­is­tic to the more ab­stract. I of­ten add words to re­call sounds and feel­ings. Some­times I in­clude par­tial words in a piece, which mean some­thing to me, but are il­leg­i­ble to the eye.

My de­signs start with an open plas­ter mould. Lay­ers of printed, poured and painted cast­ing slips are built up, en­abling colour to be over­laid onto the por­ous sur­face. Once dry, the top sec­tion is added to the moulded base and, us­ing a throw­ing wheel, is thinned and shaped. At the cen­tre of the ves­sel a flange of clay forms: the mould ac­cen­tu­ates the join, which frag­ments as the ves­sel shrinks in­wards. When dried, the piece is fired and pol­ished and I paint on mark­ings. These de­tails re­flect the con­stant re­mak­ing of the shore and of­ten ref­er­ence el­e­ments within my seascape mono­prints.

My stu­dio at home in Brunt­ingth­orpe looks out onto a walled gar­den with dap­pled light from the sur­round­ing trees. Ra­dio 3 plays while I am work­ing, but I en­joy the dis­trac­tion of pod­casts when I am clear­ing up.

I feel hon­oured to have re­ceived some pres­ti­gious awards (in­clud­ing Best New­comer at Ce­ramic Art Lon­don 2018). I am cur­rently ex­plor­ing new col­lec­tions for 2019 and work­ing on a col­lab­o­ra­tion with fine fur­ni­ture mak­ers By­ron & Gómez to in­te­grate a dis­play of my de­signs with their pieces.

Han­nah Toun­send, han­nah­toun­send.co.uk. In­sta­gram: han­nah_­toun­send. To dis­cuss com­mis­sions, email htoun­[email protected] Han­nah’s work is avail­able on her web­site, snug-gallery.com and thes­trat­fordgallery.co.uk.

Han­nah at work in her stu­dio, build­ing up ce­ramic colour on a mould.

FROM TOP A packed kiln ready for bisque fir­ing; throw­ing the top sec­tion of a hy­brid ves­sel.

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