Heidi Harrington

"never tire of a new bag of clay"

Describe your craft

I combine clay with the printed image – I have over 15 years’ experience. I make plates, bowls and wall pieces, highlighting the beauty I find in nature. My starting point is photography and fresh clay prints.

How do you work?

I screen print photographic imagery onto freshly rolled slabs of clay. Then I form these slabs over and into moulds for plates, bowls, vessels and wall pieces. The fresh clay and material print moves and sways around the plaster mould until finally freezing into the finished piece. So form and decoration are integral. I then fire and finish the pieces with clear and tinted glazes.

What makes your pieces different?

It’s this exploration of traditional and industrial processes. I’m producing new intricate “digital slip” surfaces. There’s an element of chance, so each print in the edition will be unique, though combined in clean, simple forms.

Inspiration?

The material itself. I’ll never tire of opening a new bag of clay – I am so grateful for my ideas, knowledge and skills. And you can still make amazing discoveries even when you’ve been doing a material and process for a long time.

How did you train?

I think I have always been a maker of some kind, beginning with whittling wood as a child up to my own practice today. I studied Ceramics at Bath School of Art with Felicity Aylieff and I then did an MA in Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art. That was the breakthrough as I began to use clay and print combinations.

What’s your biggest challenge?

Having enough time to make, experiment and keep my practice fresh. So much energy is taken up with other tasks – but I love to have long stretches of time in my studio.

What makes a good studio?

I built a large new workshop in my garden at home last year. I’ve had various studio spaces over the years but this one really works for me. I love being so physically close to the work. It’s a lot easier to check on pieces drying, kiln firings and so on and it fits around my family life – I now have two small sons. It really is essential to have dedicated space for all your tools and materials, as well as space to have two or three things on the go at once. Ceramics can be a slow process so I will often work on things at different stages. A good radio is also a must for me!

Ambitions?

To work on more Interior commissions and site-based projects. I also want to advance my material research, finding with new forms and vehicles for my prints.

Advice?

Don’t rush your work. Carefully note what you learn along the way. Make work that feels right to you and reflects your own ideas/inspiration. Try not to veer too far from your own path. Find your seam of gold and mine it.