Tell us a bit about e.p.c and how it all started?
I used to be the Creative Director of a furniture brand and we bought our ceramics from huge accessory suppliers that mass-produced homeware in Asia. Just like in the fashion industry, new colours and styles were introduced every season to encourage people to chuck out the old and buy more. A lot of those ceramics were made to look hand-crafted, but of course they were being churned out in their thousands. Not only are there serious environmental and moral issues surrounding 'fast homeware', I was also bothered by how disposable and meaningless it all felt. I decided that I wanted to make my own ceramics; one-off, hand made objects that would actually be treasured and loved by their owners.
I’d tried ceramics at school. A teacher once rang my parents to rave about this little clay boot, I had made in art lessons. When you’re that age stuff like that really has an impact, Years later, while working at the furniture company, I decided to take some ceramics classes. I wanted to find out if I actually had any talent, or if that sad boot was in fact the actual limit of my abilities.
Without wanting to sound cheesy, that ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made.
Ceramics means more to me than I can explain. It’s a respite to how fast-moving and relentless the rest of the world is. You have to slow down and consider every movement you make. It’s not possible to rush, and that in itself makes ceramics valuable and rewarding to me. It’s also a great way to fill your house with 20 types of soap dish.
What inspires your work?
My work is sort of inspired by everything I’m trying to get away from. The ceramics are my response to all the plastic and complexity that surrounds us in the city. I wanted to make stuff that was simple and rustic. Stuff that had some connection to the past and to nature. I get inspired by rock formations, seascapes and ancient pottery. I realise that’s the sort of thing a New Age acid casualty might say, but it’s true.
I want my work to enhance your everyday routines. If you enjoy coffee, for example, don’t rush it. Slow down and make it properly in a dripper or a stove top and drink it out of a great cup, sitting at the window. Is that pretentious? Probably. But there are worse things than being a bit pretentious.
That’s how I approach the making process: slowly and thoughtfully. If I can pass that stillness and focus onto another person, then I’m happy.
What’s your first memory of dogs being in your life?
I grew up in the suburbs with a red setter, a black lab and a schnauzer. The black lab was far too clever and energetic for us, and even though she got a long walk every day, I remember one day she learned how to open the back gate so she could take herself for a walk. We thought one of us had left the gate open and so she managed to take herself to the park on several occasions before we realised she had learned to open doors. She would be gone for a couple of hours and then turn up pawing the front door sopping wet and covered in mud after a swim in the park lake.
Tell us about Kronus and how he came into your life?
Kronus is an English bulldog. He’s got the biggest personality of any dog I know. I’m sure all dog owners say this, but we do actually communicate. He laughs at my crap jokes, asks me for things, sighs when he’s sad and huffs when I don’t do what he wants. His face is so expressive and human-like, that it’s like having a pint-sized, hairy, Victorian strong man living with me. He is also the funniest dog I know. He has a little paddling pool and instead of just sitting in it to cool off on hot days, he spins around in really fast circles with his mouth wide open trying to scoop up all the water up until he’s so dizzy he falls over.
Bulldogs can have all sorts of health problems due to inbreeding, so I made sure to research breeders that were making an effort to widen the gene pool (his dad is from America and his mum is from Bethnal Green). He’s also fed a grain-free diet of Orijen kibble and Natural Instinct green tripe. We taught him to love chasing the ball so he runs a lot, which has massively paid off. The vet recently told me, in quite an alarmed tone of voice, ‘this is the healthiest and strongest bulldog we’ve ever seen’. I genuinely hope he never realises how much stronger he is than me.
How does having a dog fit into your general working day?
When Kronus was a puppy he used to come to the office with me, which he loved. Now I split my time between home and my studio in Hoxton. We’ll go for a walk in the morning, chase the ball, and in the summer straight back to the house for a dip into the pool. If it’s a studio day, I’ll leave him to chill for a few hours while I go and build pots or vases. When I get back, we’ll often head to the local shops to get dinner. The shop owners sometimes give him their left-over ends of ham. Or we’ll head to the pub.
If you could be a breed of dog for the day which breed would you be and why?
An English bulldog because you get so much attention. In London everyone wants to say hello and be your mate. Particularly white van drivers, builders and cabbies. Who doesn’t want to be told “Oh, you’re laaaverly” 20 times a day?