In Thursday night’s episode of The Great Pottery Throw Down on BBC Two, Freya was the seventh potter to leave the series and talks here about her experience on the show:
What age or time in your life did you start pottery and who inspired you?
I started to take clay work seriously when I was 22 and had to make a living by starting to teach kids classes to earn money. When I was doing a fine art degree, one day my tutor told me that I had a way with clay, and maybe I should have done a ceramics course, and I said that’s because my father is a potter and I am familiar with the material. But the last thing I ever wanted to do was pottery! Now I wouldn’t have it any other way. The first teapot I ever made was with my twin sister, when we were 10 yrs old. We made it together whilst waiting for dad to finish work in the studio. I remember being upset that the lid did not fit and my dad didn’t help us, and he said we’d figure it out one day! lol
Where do you make your pottery and what is your favoured technique?
I share a workshop with my father. I run classes, and am starting to put together my own set of pieces. I don’t have a favourite technique, I use whichever one to best suit the end product. I started off with hand-building and find it too easy now, throwing has a bit more give now if I want to challenge myself. Also both techniques have their own qualities that the other does not, so I appreciate both. I think both techniques still take a lot of practise to have it look how you want. People get really frustrated with both and I say if you can’t have patience and persevere do something else! Pottery is usually a relaxing hobby and a lengthy process so what was it like to be working under quite strict time constraints. I found it an incredible experience, and would do it again any day! It’s amazing how much you can get done if you have to! I’ve learnt you can achieve so much if you are put under pressure. I use that for life in general- take control, your life is only yours to lead!
What is your favourite piece of pottery that you make for friends and family?
Unfortunately, I do not get any special requests from friends nor family, I don’t think they want anything anymore. Every family house is full of my pots!
How did you find filming walking in on the first day – how was the whole experience for you?
Overwhelming! Eye- opening! Really Incredible! Truly amazing and life-changing for me.. I’m grateful!
Walking in on the first day was very surreal, terrifying and incredibly exciting, I didn’t know how to be, I was a mix of emotions. I wanted to be challenged and I wanted to learn and push myself harder then ever, it is what I asked for! I have learnt more than I ever did at university, for sure!! And I had achieved more in one day there, than in a month at home.. I had been lazy!
Which judge did you want to impress the most and what do you feel that you have learned from both of them?
I wanted to impress both Kate and Keith, as they are both experts in their fields and I am learning. I especially admire Kate’s sculptural work as I have a Fine Art background and her art work really speaks to me, being rich in creativity, I am especially fascinated by the in-depth texture of her organic forms.
At the same time I appreciate the skills that Keith has. When I was once told ‘throwing is a long haul’ I didn’t believe it until I realised the time it took me to perfect the techniques, now I feel I can make whatever shape I want, but you have to maintain your skill because your body can get out of practise. I value the skill and use it as an exercise to be good at what I do. It is also very precious because of technology there is a huge lack in people making and learning to perfect with their hands and the care and passion is starting to thrive again. So any practised skill is valuable to me also! My father has practised for 30 years and because of that, I have a livelihood.
Sara was great. Lol made us laugh! She was in the way some of the time, but actually very helpful and gave me lots of warning signs without her knowing. Because her comments were directed from the outside looking in with no experience they were full of common sense and were very refreshing - because when you have more experience, all you are thinking about are the technicalities working or not working. I wish I had more time to stop and chat to her, cos she made me laugh even when I wanted her to go away lol.
What do you feel that you will take away from your experience on the Great Pottery Throw Down?
To be truly unstoppable and have more confidence in myself- no fear and try harder- you have to work hard for it to pay off! I have learnt a lot about how I can cope under pressure, and what it takes to succeed in creating good ceramic work. There is so much detail that must be perfected, to truly create a masterful piece of ceramics. Whatever style, it must be intentional !
What did you find easier or enjoy the challenge more – the Main Make, Spot Test or the Throwdown?
My skills were stretched in every aspect of the throwdown, everything was a challenge especially with the cameras around.
What were the best and worst moment in the series for you ?
The best moment for me was when I actually made the main tasks work, because even if I had practised one task - I had never had the chance to fire or glaze fire them. So it was always a first time and was a success when 1. I liked it, and 2. It actually worked! As, I have never needed to make anything in pottery functionally ‘work’ before. I never saw the need, when it is far easier to buy things that we need to function. Working with clay has always been for its aesthetic qualities, in a fine art, abstract, sensory and expressive context.
The worst moment was every time after a challenge when I realised there’s no way I could change it now. If the foundations weren’t right (ie in the making stage, before it goes in the kiln) it will show when it comes out the kiln, and as I go along in the processes, the faults only exacerbate.
What’s next for you in the ceramic world and what are your hopes and ambitions after Great Pottery Throw Down?
I am working on my own range of art work to exhibit and sell. I hope to be in art galleries. I also continue to teach in my workshop. My sister and I are also teaching together and we would like to collaborate more in future, using her theatre skills and my fine art skills to deliver workshops in more creative ways. And as always … helping my dad out in the workshop
If you fancy having a go at pottery - Hey Clay! from the 7-9 April is chance to have a go for free. We are still adding more venues all the time so keep checking our website to find one near you.