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Directory Maker of the Week: Jo Taylor

Currently showing at the Bluecoat Display Centre in Liverpool

Our Directory Maker of the Week, Jo Taylor, talks to us about getting into making, what inspires her and her favourite part of the making process.

Who or what got you into making?

I started evening classes when I was 21 and had a very inspiring tutor - Kevin De Choisy - who makes exquisite thrown work. In my 20s I had worked in finance then as a police officer, and had been happy to be a hobby potter in my spare time. By the time I was 30 I wanted to learn more, so attended Bath Spa University to study ceramics in depth.

Could you please tell us a bit about your work?

I completed my Ceramics MA in January 2012 and since then have been busy developing and exhibiting my work, alongside teaching ceramics.
I use the potters wheel in a non-traditional way; having a tableware background I understand the process and use it to improvise for non-functional work. I create shapes of varying sizes which are used to build a form when leather-hard. I use ribs and tools to create marks within these shapes to accentuate light and shadow, and give a sense of speed and direction. I sometimes alter the shapes at the point of removal from the wheel. I incorporate hand built additions at the leather hard stage; building is an organic process and continues until a decision is made to stop. As a process this has infinite possibilities as each piece is unique.

What are your inspirations?

My inspiration comes from decorative architectural features such as ornate plaster ceilings, wrought iron and carved stone. I live near the Georgian city of Bath so these features are in abundance locally, although I seek out these details wherever I go, and regularly visit Liverpool and London where ornament can be experienced on a grand scale within historic buildings such as Sefton Park Palm House, and the V&A, for example. 

Further afield the architecture of Gaudi in Barcelona, the palaces of Potsdam and the Villa D'Este in Tivoli have all provided inspiration. I enjoy the grand gesture present in large scale relief, the drama of deep shadow, the dialogue between space, structure and ornament. The changing light conditions of bright sunlight, a dull day, dusk or artificial light can affect the contrast and way the structure is perceived. On a small scale within my home I put new works out to see how they feel under different lighting conditions during the course of the day; I am interested in the relationship with the final space, and how it works with light. 

What is your favourite part of the making process?

It is important to me that the process is enjoyable, and during my MA I decided that each work would be unique as I had not enjoyed the repetition of making tableware previously. I love using the wheel and am happy that I can be spontaneous and make changes whilst making the individual pieces. The handbuilt pieces are also enjoyable to create for the same reasons and for the direct contact of the hand in the clay. The final build using all of the amassed pieces is challenging but also exciting again because of the possibilities. 

What are you working on right now?

At present I am working on a number of projects but the current focus is on an architectural ceramics project based at Liverpool University called Ecalab. I am one of twelve ceramicists interpreting a light diffusing cone, in preparation for an exhibition at RIBA North on Liverpool's iconic waterfront at the end of October.

Jo is currently showing at the Bluecoat Display Centre in Liverpool as a result of winning The People's Vote at the inaugural Carter Preston Prize show in 2016.

View Jo Taylor's Directory profile 

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