lockdown ceramics

The Lockdown ceramics project started in April 2020 by our Queens Road ceramics tutor Dr. Oliver Kent as we citizens of Bristol and the World were forced to stop and retreat – professionally, socially, mentally and spiritually, watching Corona virus beginning to dominate our very existence.

The idea of the Lockdown Ceramics was this: despite the fact that Covid robbed us ceramicists of many things: our studios, our clay, our glazes, our kilns and our interaction with each other, it could not rob us of our love for making pots, our inspiration and our resourcefulness.

So, we dug out clay in our gardens and public spaces ( Bristol Downs) and worked it into pottery clay (a labour of love over a couple of warm days, see photos above). We had a bonus in our hands – free time of the lockdown: all those endless hours of the day which we wanted to fill with something creative, something positive or just anything. We then used the oldest known ceramic technique in the word – pinching lumps of clay into delicate little pots and then burnishing them with a sleek pebble to compact the outside clay layer into smooth and shiny finish. We then dried those little treasures – gently, slowly, carefully.

After that we built a kiln in the garden: bricks came from skips in local residential areas (it seemed many people had started house renovation projects in the lockdown while we were on the lookout for non-bought kiln building material – happy coincidence). 50 bricks, cleaned from their old mortar, made the first kiln in the beginning of July (above) increased to 60 for a second firing in September. Firing time was extended from 5.5 hrs to 7.5 hrs and the temperature reached to 829°C.

The result is much more satisfying than anything that comes from a powerful ceramic kiln, as every stage of making these unassuming, a bit whimsical and fragile things was so very personal. Nothing in the process came in bags from ceramics suppliers and no electricity was used for turning clay into ceramics. And, the most important – we survived.