New Makers is a programme designed to support and mentor craftspeople at the beginning of their creative journey.
This is our second year running, and we are delighted to introduce our five makers for 2020. They are Ambrose Vevers, Polly Yates, John Hollington, Viv Lee and duo Pop & Jez. Over the course of the year, all of our new makers will be offered business and marketing advice, and given a platform from which to sell their pieces, with full profits being returned to them.
Our New Makers have been chosen for their honouring of form and material from iron rich glazes, to scorched walnut wood and rusted steel. Though each maker has a varied approach and discipline, all are joined by their appreciation of thoughtfulness and simplicity, reflecting the philosophy of TOAST.
The collection this year is both sculptural and distinctive and embodies the originality of the makers. Below, we introduce each maker and their work.
Ambrose Vevers creates practical yet contemporary pieces for the kitchen using hand carpentry skills and traditional furniture making techniques, such as steam bending and spokeshaving. His workshop is tucked away on a peaceful apple orchard in Ashburton, Devon.
Ambrose works into each piece patiently by hand, and scorches the surfaces of his pieces using the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique, making them waterproof in the process. He predominantly uses ash, cherry, oak and walnut, and sources his timber locally from nearby woodlands. More often than not, it is felled and coppiced from the same very land he lives and works on.
A solar-powered, timber-framed barn is used by Ambrose for large scale projects and for teaching furniture making workshops. The solar panels help to power his machinery, whilst proposing limits to the methods he can use. It is these limitations that characterise each piece with a modest and rich quality, unique to the handmade.
It was a spontaneous move to Japan, and later Chicago, that gave ceramicist Polly Yates a certain curiosity towards clay. After graduating with a Masters in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, Polly ventured to Tokyo and the rural pottery village of Mashiko. She spent her time sat at the potter's wheel learning to throw, and the classes that later followed in Chicago taught her the expressive nature of hand-building with clay, which is now her perfected technique.
Polly combines coiling and pinching to build curvaceous vessels, joining together the different shapes piece by piece to create a whole. The surfaces are textured with fingertip traces, and each form has a soft asymmetry, unique to hand-building.
It is a perfect balance of nature and art that inform the works of York-based designer John Hollington. His sculptural nest boxes for the garden are driven by a wealth of material knowledge that he learned from his previous career working in Consulting Engineering, whilst referencing Modernist art and architecture.
Each piece by John is designed to last and is guided by his deep-rooted understanding of longevity, carefully charring the wood through the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique. Using traditional sculpture materials such as oak and steel, the finished nest boxes are refined and minimalist in feel.
An original nest box sits on the gables of John's own home in York, providing a comfortable place for blue tits to nestle in each spring. The boxes create a beautiful and subtle contrast to the natural surrounding they sit in, and the geometric habitats attract anything from wrens and goldcrests to little house sparrows.
Glasgow-based ceramicist Viv Lee creates smooth-edged vessels that subtly reference the human body.
Viv first chanced upon hand-building during her degree in Fine Art Sculpture at Glasgow School of Art. She became instantly drawn to the process, finding working with clay both meditative and grounding. But it is no coincidence that Viv has ended up working with her hands: a ten-year career in floristry prior to ceramics, combined with a short spell of aromatherapy set Viv up with the perfect collection of skills for sculpting with natural materials.
Now based in a former cigarette factory in the east end of Glasgow, Viv's figurative vessels are subtly textured, and glazed in a palette of off-whites and earthy tones. Perfectly in line with the Wabi-Sabi philosophy, pits, pinholes and unexpected glaze irregularities are all equally embraced by Viv.
Wild seas and clay-laden fields surround the studio of potters Popalini & Jezando. Nestled away in the rural parish of Welcombe in North Devon, the duo create collaboratively designed, wheel-thrown pots from their agricultural shed-turned-studio.
Pop & Jez use as many local materials as they can to create their distinctive tea pots and tea bowls. They collect their stoneware clay from an independent clay-pit in West Cornwall, and once bisque fired, the pots are dipped in an iron-rich glaze that is reminiscent of cast iron. Sometimes, portions of each pot are left bare to reveal the natural qualities of the clay.
The finished wares of Pop & Jez carefully reference the understated forms of Japanese tea-ware, and the cast iron kettles that traditionally hang above open fires in Japanese homes. And intrinsically, they pay gentle homage to the traditional pottery of North Devon too.
Words by Daisy Gray.