North Cornwall has been an important centre for pottery and ceramics since the late 18th century when large deposits of China clay were first discovered in the county’s mineral rich soil and used to produce fine white porcelain.
This natural resource has long attracted ceramic artists to the area, with success stories including the Leach Pottery of St. Ives and Cornishware which has become as emblematic as pasties and sea shanties.
Today many of the world’s leading artists are based in North Cornwall where they regularly display and sell their work and even run courses. Here are a few to get you started.
Brian Andrew Ceramics, Ruffen Common Gallery, Launceston
Brian Andrew made his name with sculptures made using the ancient Japanese raku firing technique but now concentrates on the more traditional slipware style of ceramics which uses red clay decorated with coloured ‘slips’. He is perhaps best known for characterful animal pieces, including dogs, rabbits and foxes. Ruffen Common is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4:30pm.
Rebecca Proctor, Whitstone
Rebecca’s warm, elegant ceramics are inspired by the North Cornwall landscape and use natural resources from the area. Glaze materials are gathered locally and her clay is sourced from a small family owned Cornish quarry. She runs regular courses and day-long workshops – see her website for dates and prices.
Paul Jackson, Helland Bridge Pottery, Helland Bridge
Paul’s unique work is created from earthenware, allowing for dynamic shaping of the pieces which are thrown on the wheel before being altered by hand. He has been working in Cornwall since 1979 and his art is regularly exhibited throughout the county. Summer 2023 sees a major retrospective at his son Jethro’s gallery in Pityme, near Rock.
Brian Anderson, St Nectans Pottery, Tintagel
A lifelong Tintagel resident, Brian Anderson has been selling pottery from his studio since 1980. He describes his work as ‘natural, functional and durable’, with each piece thrown from earthenware clay and biscuit fired to give a terracotta finish. Brian’s studio can be found on Fore Street in Tintagel, and is open to visitors.
Billy, Barbara and Faye Hawkins, Port Isaac Pottery, Port Isaac
This long running family run pottery originally sold the distinctive work of Billy Hawkins and his wife Barbara. Their ceramicist daughter Faye now runs the pottery which recently moved to the Sunday School building next door to the Chapel Café. Fans of Fisherman’s Friends may recognise Billy as one of the sea shanty singers regulars. The shop is open daily from 10am to 4pm in the summer and 11am to 3pm in the winter.
John and Rosie Parsons, Parsons Pottery, Widemouth Bay
Ceramicists John and Rosie Parsons moved into this old stable studio on Quinceborough Farm near Bude in 2020. From here they run regular throwing workshops as well as pottery painting sessions for all ages. See their website for times and prices.