On 9/9/99 I moved into a small Victorian Mews workshop in Brighton – for obvious reasons I don’t suppose I’ll ever forget the date.
My partner Sue and I, along with our first child moved from the big smoke to the little smoke by the sea – Brighton, having lived in London for nearly fifteen years.
Ever since leaving college in 1989 I had been an urban potter and rented a couple of large workshops shared with other artists. The first was in the then fairly run down Hoxton Square near Old Street and the later was a capacious space rented from the well known ceramicist Kate Malone about a mile north in Balls Pond Road.
The move to Brighton meant a new start, now being a father and an owner occupier rather than a rent paying tenant. I was selling mainly to shops such as The David Mellor Shop in Sloane Square. Delivery in those days was by cardboard boxes in the back of my car.
Sue was from Carmarthenshire and expecting our second child and unbeknown to me had started coveting a bit more space further west. It was true despite the fact that I was no longer paying rent for a workshop we now had two mortgages, one for the pottery and one for the flat we lived in – at times things were hard.
Many days spent driving from Sussex to South West Wales followed during the next few months, until one day early 2003 we came across the place we now call home; Waun Hir is where one urban potter became one of the many who has exchanged city life for the rural dream.
The house was semi-derelict and we lived in a caravan for 2½ years. A temporary kiln was built and a temporary workshop was established in one of the outbuildings which were also in need of complete renovation. This is actually where the story really begins.
Much of the next 2 or 3 years was spent working on the house – for a time pottery took the back seat. But throughout my business had a website and I began to realise for me anyway, that running a small craft business had changed. The emphasis of priority had altered. I was no longer fighting against the relentless inflation of urban overheads and I was selling less to shops than ever before. Strangely enough as I have moved away from towns and people more and more of the pots I am making are being sold directly to the public.
This is the first article in a continuing series. I hope to raise certain questions and hope to engage with new audiences of like minded people and other interested third parties. While at times it is certainly still hard raising a family and earning a living from making usable pots, it is also a privilege. The potential for development on all sorts of levels has not even been half fulfilled at Waun Hir.
It is my intention to tell my story as it unfolds.