After designing and creating #100bottles100days, ceramic Artist Anna Whitehouse is now renowned for the most beautiful collection of naturally inspired bottles we really have ever seen…
Inspired by all areas of the natural word and named after something that happened that day, her collection is super inventive and interesting yet simple and stunning (fair to say we’re obsessed!), so much so that we’ve invited Anna to host a workshop in our Walled Garden.
After a tour of the garden we had a slice of freshly baked rhubarb cake with Anna (the sort that’s still a little bit warm from the oven…best kind!), and over a couple of mugs of tea we found out more about her, her love for pots and what she has in store for the spring workshop!
Anna, when did you first discover your love for pottery?
I first touched clay aged ten at school, when we were given a lump of the weird stuff and told to make an animal. I made a giraffe, which started to crack after a while (especially those legs!) and our teacher's response was to put a damp paper towel over it. Obviously, this just made an even bigger mess and it was still cracked, so for years I was convinced you couldn't make anything good out of clay.
Fast forward ten years and I’m in my first year of a 3D Design course at Manchester Metropolitan University, doing a six-week intro to ceramics. I was being taught by people who actually knew how to handle clay and had access to a glaze lab of free materials where you were encouraged to go mix up potions- my mind was blown, and I was instantly hooked.
How would you describe your work?
Ultimately, I aim to create intriguing objects that create a childlike sense of wonder and appreciation of the natural world.
If you had to choose one, which has been your favourite project to create and why?
Ask any Artist, it’s always the last thing they did. And even then, after a while they’ll start to criticize and see things they’d improve, that’s what pushes them to make the next piece!
What are you working on at the moment? Any behind the scenes exhibitions we should know of?
I just produced a demo and interview film for The Ceramics Congress, I was asked to take part along with 24 international ceramic artists, completely new skills to learn!
I am working on a large sculpture commission for The Himalayan Gardens and Sculpture Park at Grewelthorpe, in association with The Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh.
I have my project #100bottles100days in a solo exhibition at The Craft Centre and Design Gallery Leeds.
I’m also preparing for the much-anticipated return of North Yorkshire Open Studios, happening on the first two weekends in June, along with 100 other selected artists, you can get a free brochure if you visit their website; ww.nyos.org.uk.
If you’re stuck for inspiration where do you head to?
Art Forms in Nature by Ernst Haeckel- seriously, go do a quick internet search, you won’t regret it!
Who’s your favourite ceramic artist? And why?
That’s impossible! I have too many; Hitomi Hosono, Kate Malone, Sarah Rayner- best thing to do is go to my Instagram account @annawhitehouseceramics and see who I follow!.
You teach workshops weekly, what’s your favourite part of teaching?
Showing people simple techniques then seeing the excitement when they realise all the things they could create!
What do you have in store for us in the upcoming workshop?
We’re going to be learning simple, and actually quite meditative, hand building techniques to create a collection of miniature planters. These can then be personalised with carving, modelling, painting- whatever takes your fancy! The idea is to play and see where it takes you, a bit like my #100bottles100days project.
And finally, when you’re not sculpting where can you be found?
Either hiking in the Yorkshire Dales or flying along on my mountain bike!
Photo credit: David Lindsay