4th May 2015 – I was interviewed and photographed by Peter Tate for the Purbeck Art Weeks ‘Talking to Artists’ slot. Here is the article:
Now this is fun. Red heat visible through the hole in the outdoor kiln, bowls of charred sawdust, smoke, steam and flames in the Purbeck countryside and a tin bath full of opalescent pots looking like sunken treasure. From clay to something tactile fascinating and beautiful in minutes, it is so immediate, and definitely magical. Yes your PAW reporter has been to a Raku pottery firing. It is all to do with removing oxygen from the clay in a post reduction firing, letting the carbon mix with the glaze followed by rapid cooling and the colours produced are unpredictable but often wonderful.
Emma-Louise Grinsted knows all about this, she studied real potting under the greats at Harrow College, Mick Casson, Victor Margrie and David Leach being just some of the remarkable tutors she came across. She was taught practical stuff like building kilns and practicing throwing pots for 12 hours at a stretch but she still ended up making Dragons. Life and a young family have slowed down her pottery career but she did teach pottery at Corfe School till the Kiln was removed. She is now getting underway again and this year’s PAW is an opportunity to see how well she is doing. So which piece of equipment is most indispensable to you when working? Because her main love, other than beautiful Raku Pots, is of intricate fearsome ceramic dragons she can’t do without her roulettes. This is a decorative technique that can be traced back 5000 years, she creates the patterns and makes them into moulds that she uses to impress the intricate designs onto the wet clay. She shares a kiln with her mother who was a trained Pottery Therapist and doubles as her helper at firing time, it takes two to Raku.
If you could have a drink with one artist, living or dead, who would it be? She has met most of the modern great potters so she goes back to the Martin Brothers, who worked in Southall. Popular in Victorian and Edwardian London, they were best known for their salt glazed bird sculptures and bowls, vessels decorated with sea creatures, and tiles, fashioned in a whimsical but highly skilful style. She would love mystic, poet author of Jerusalem and artist William Blake to call in. ‘He saw things’ is all she will say. He did paint dragons too.
When working creatively is there a particular genre of music or specific artist that you like to listen to? She likes the radio when she is working mainly because she doesn’t have to fiddle with it while her hands are covered in clay. Of music she likes ‘shouty stuff’ goes a bit coy and admits to a weakness for Marilyn Manson and The Cure.
Please tell us about one aspect of The Isle of Purbeck that kicks off your ideas? She loves Purbeck, sees dragons coiling round the castle mound, and she and her mother are experimenting firing the red clay from the Bile Brook at the bottom of the garden in Harmans Cross.
How do you see your work developing? Emma is not short of ideas, time is her problem. Initially she was drawn to textiles before the pull of pottery claimed her. Her pots are captivating charming and multi-faceted but it is her dragons that are truly fantastical and original works of art. Come and see them at Durlston and Venue 26. We might just bump into each other.