Biography

I was introduced to pottery at school, aged 12. We were lucky to have a dedicated art studio separate from the main school campus in Malmesbury. The pottery teacher was Eric Bullion and he provided the enthusiasm for the art and taught us throwing and hand building techniques.
I enjoyed throwing and hand building equally and still do to this day.

I took art at O and A Level and went on to an Art Foundation course at Swindon College before a degree in Ceramics at Middlesex Polytechnic. This was a 4 year sandwich course which allowed you to get work experience in your 3rd year.

We had a diverse set of tutors; Neil French makes figurative pieces and portrait sculptures, Mo Jupp made sculptural figures, Emmanuel Cooper was a thrower and exceptional glaze specialist and Kate Malone who produces vessels influenced by nature.
Emmanuel Cooper taught glaze technology as well as throwing. I still use his glaze recipe books as my go to guides, although they are a little dog eared now.

In my sandwich year I worked for John Huggins at his Courtyard Pottery in Groundwell, Swindon. John produced garden ware on a huge scale. His ability to throw large vessels was incredible.

I learnt a lot, from clay production, mould making, throwing and kiln building. I returned to work there after college and also manned his stand at the Chelsea Flower show for 2 years. He has since moved to Ruardean Garden Pottery in the Forest of Dean.

Ian Smedley working at Courtyard Pottery in 1989

The other opportunity during that year was to work for David Roberts at his studio in Holmfirth. He produces beautiful raku fired vessels that are famous around the world. I did a lot of clay prep and slip tests for his smoked, crazed decorative finishes. I also like to think I helped educate him on the finer points of malt whiskey!

David Roberts Studio -1989

After 30 years I decided to go back to being a full-time potter in 2022 after building a new studio during lockdown. I now am fortunate to make every day.
My inspiration and influences for vessels come from rugged landscapes, stormy weather and ancient standing stones. My sculptural work is heavily influenced by Japanese and Egyptian armour and statues, an interest that was fuelled by many visits to the V&A Museum and Tower Armouries.

Most of my work is stoneware fired in an electric kiln but I also love Raku firing, the immediacy of the flames marking the pieces creating the unexpected.
Although my passion is more sculptural work, I enjoy the technical craft of making thrown lidded vessels and small runs of domestic ware. I now split my time making ceramics and rebuilding our house which is very old…

In the Spring and Summer I run workshops in throwing, hand building and Raku firing. I do some one on one teaching and am happy to discuss taking on students if time allows.

I sell my work via the web shop, at various Artist Markets and recently via the Corsham Gallery.

I am happy to make commissions so please feel free to get in contact. My main display site is on Instagram: @iansmedleyceramics.