On arriving in Wales the realisation how mammoth the task at hand was soon took hold. The house had been neglected for decades and it seemed that I was becoming a builder. Had we moved to the country to become property developers? Of course not but our dilemma was we had images in our heads of country houses, with workshops and showrooms, but the reality was a derelict pile!
The best I could manage was a temporary workshop in the smallest and most weather tight shed. I also built a temporary kiln so production all be it on a scaled down level could take place. I made pots if I had orders and if not I worked on the house.
So far in my career I had predominantly sold through shops this seemed the obvious way to do things. When I was a student in London I used to often visit Contemporary Ceramics, Contemporary Applied Arts and David Mellor and look at the work being produced by the finest potters in the land. I was now selling my pots in all three. But was this the best path for me? As I have said my pottery business had taken a back seat while we tried to get Waun Hir up together again. One of the reasons we had decided on settling in Llandeilo is that it is easily accessible to the M4. This seemed so important initially, but gradually it became apparent that the ability or indeed desire to thrash up the M4, across the bridge into England and on to London was no longer important.
Now I still sell to Contemporary Ceramics and CAA but not David Mellor. For many years I had relied on the steady trade orders that only a shop like David Mellor can offer. But if I’m honest I had always struggled making lots of pots to be sold relatively cheaply while at the same time paying the increasing overheads of urban Southern England.
A good friend of mine Daniel Ward who actually studied ceramics at Middlesex Polytechnic at the same time as me, retrained in web design about ten years ago. He suggested that I should have a website but significantly it would have an on-line shop. This is when ‘Kitchen Pottery’ came into being. I do believe that the one thing that has changed my pottery business more than anything is the use of the internet as a means of communication, but more importantly an incredibly powerful marketing tool.
It was Christmas 2005 and we had been away for a few days. On returning rather than a nice cosy home it was a mouldy caravan with burst water pipes that greeted us! The first floor was pretty much done in the house so we moved in there and then – no kitchen or bathroom – but hey you can’t have everything. Despite living upstairs only and as yet without central heating there was no turning back, onwards and upwards we reckoned – time to get that manky old caravan out of our garden. We pushed and pushed and finally it was gone.