Ruthin Craft Centre
The Centre for the Applied Arts

Studio 6

Jason Braham

Ceramic Portal Series 23 March –

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A series of craft work in focus from Welsh ceramic makers
Series curation: Wendy Lawrence

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I first made pots in 1972, having just been appointed to teach ceramics alongside sculpture. A few weeks with West Marshall in Norfolk gave me enough of a start to be just one step ahead of the students that first term. Soon, though, we were building kilns in the school grounds, digging our own clay, burning our own ash, and I was gaining confidence in my own pottery, inspired by my parents’ collection of country ware from the West Country and France. A near neighbour, in our Dorset days, was a young Richard Batterham, and the pots my parents brought from him then certainly told me the sort of pots I wanted to make.

In 1982 I attended Mick Casson’s Wobage Summer Course. Mick was an inspirational teacher, and my work took a jump forward.

That jump coincided, though, with my appointment to run an art department, in which I would not be teaching ceramics, so pottery was pretty well confined to the school holidays. We bought a farm cottage with a two-storey barn in Herefordshire, built a catenary salt kiln and I made just enough pots each year to supply a couple of galleries and have an exhibition somewhere.

In 2007 I stopped teaching and began working as a full-time potter in a new studio in Radnorshire. I’ve been doing that ever since. With a big pole barn as a kiln shed, I’ve built two kilns, one for salt (which is about to be rebuilt) and one for other stoneware – principally ash glazed. Both were built with wood-firing in mind, but (despite their origins in Daniel Rhodes’ Kilns) neither has proved able to get to the highest temperatures without the help of two trusty Swirlamiser oil burners. I gather I’m not the only wood-firer who uses this aid.

My inspiration still comes from European country ware and from potters in the Leach and Cardew traditions. The core of my work is still pots for food and drink, kitchen and table.