BBC Two’s Great Pottery Throwndown came back to our screens in February after a hugely successful first series, attracting over 2 million viewers each week. The show, which many are describing as The Great British Bake Off meets clay, sees ten amateur potters compete to become Top Potter with a number of challenges that range from garden sculpture to a 12-piece porcelain tea set. The third episode of the new series focused on the art of Japenese style ceramics and featured the work of Penzance-based potter Catherine Lucktaylor as a perfect example of how to master the dramatic process of raku-firing.
Raku-firing involves taking pots while they are still glowing red from the kiln and placing them immediately into containers filled with combustible materials. The materials ignite and the containers are closed, producing an intense reduction atmosphere which effects the colours in glazes and clay as well as creating a distinctive cracking due to the drastic thermal shock. The pots are then plunged into cold water to halt the firing process.
Catherine Lucktaylor‘s ‘Wild Cornwall’ series of pots uses the Raku process to create an expressive and colourful finish, reminiscent of flower filled clifftops and swirling seas. Catherine was sought out for the program that showed judge and master potter Keith Brymer Jones holding her pot up from the group of examples to completely focus on her stand-out decoration.
Catherine has been making and experimenting with Raku for over 25 years and was lucky enough to be taught by two well known and respected authorities on Raku during her two-year foundation at Huddersfield Polytechnic and at Wolverhampton Polytechnic as part of her BA Hons in Ceramics. After this she moved to Cardiff and then Brighton, continuing to explore kiln building and Raku, sawdust and pit firings. In 1999, Catherine received a travelling Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and travelled to West Africa and Brazil, creating mixed media sculptural installations as she explored her mixed British-Ghanaian heritage. It was the birth of her son, Leon, in 2007 and another move, to West Cornwall, that led her back to her first love of ceramics. Catherine now specialises in hand built Raku-fired ceramics inspired by the Cornish landscape, which she creates in her large studio near Penzance.
Her work has been exhibited in galleries across the UK, including the Beside The Wave galleries who are celebrating Catherine’s Great Pottery Throwdown feature with a show focusing on her ceramics in their gallery in Falmouth (10th – 30th March). The collection will include brand new work from Catherine’s ‘Wild Cornwall’ series, allowing fans of the show to see Catherine’s textured and bright finishes first hand.We also have another collection of Cornish Mist Pots by Catherine on our website.
For those wishing to find out even more about the process, Catherine runs Raku course and master classes from her studio, details of which can be found on her website.