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  • Brick and Porcelain, Kim Norton

Directory Makers of the Week: Jane Cairns & Kim Norton

To celebrate the opening of Haptic / Tacit which features five collaborations by makers from Hothouse 2013 and their mentors - we have chosen two of the featured makers as our Crafts Council Directory Makers of the Week.

Here Jane Cairns and Kim Norton tell us about getting into making, what inspires them and what they love most about their work.


Jane Cairns

Who or what got you into making
I’m the classic case of a career changer who started a night class and got hooked.  I had great tutors at Kensington and Chelsea, shout out to Michael Czerwinski and Lisa Marklew, who really encouraged and supported me when I decided to take the plunge and go back to university to do a ceramics degree. 

Tell us a bit about your work
I make hand-built ceramics with a focus on surface.  I make quite a range of work, sometimes too many different things, but everything comes from the same place and shares similar qualities.  I enjoy pushing ceramic materials and processes to capture and translate material and textural qualities I observe in everyday city life.  There are surfaces and effects that you only get with fired ceramic materials.

What are your inspirations
The ordinary and overlooked, the quiet and the humble.  It’s all about seeing and appreciating the moments of beauty, the accidental poetry, of the everyday.  That could be a patch of wall, an abandoned metal tank, street markings or the shape of a gate-post.  It’s noticing it and seeing it for its visual or sculptural qualities.  My process is to change the context and, hopefully, communicate to others some of what I’ve seen.

What is your favourite part of the making process
I work with a set of materials and processes that I’m fairly familiar with but within that I continue to experiment, test and play. There is a real excitement when a test tile comes out of the kiln with an unexpected or great new variation and I start to think of ways I can use it.

What are you working on right now
When Haptic/Tacit finishes in London I go almost immediately to Innovations in Ceramic Art in Cambridge on 5th November. After that I’m back in the studio and I want to look at scale.  Earlier in the year I made some large sculptural pieces that were almost there but not quite, so I’m looking forward to having some time to revisit that.


River Object, Jane Cairns

Kim Norton

Who and what got you into making
I’ve been making for as long as I can remember, as a child I was always doing something creative but leaned towards three dimensional work involving a lot of sewing and embroidery. Then I discovered clay during my foundation course and knew straight away that I had found the right material. There’s a quietness and complexity to clay that suits my personality.

Tell us a bit about your work
I predominately work in clay, a large part of my practice involves working site-specifically, exploring scale and making work that impacts the human senses and how we interact with those spaces. Materiality is key to my approach to projects, geology has become an important consideration using materials from the locality often in their raw state to draw attention to or reimagine something that can often be regarded as unimportant or ordinary. 

What are your inspirations
Architectural spaces and the impact certain spaces have on us emotionally. A prime example I would give is the work of Peter Zumthor where material, light, and space are highly considered, creating quite powerful atmospheres within the built environment.

Richard Serra’s work I experienced for the first time at the Gagosian gallery in London 2009 just before starting my MA. His work is an excellent example of scale, weight, mass and uncertainty. All of these elements feed into my own work. The impact of walking through Serra’s enormous and imposing works can often throw you off kilter simply by the visual illusions he creates.

Large landscapes such as clay pits and quarries - there’s nothing quite like being faced with the reality of our geological history particularly when you use finite materials. This has had quite an impact on my practice and made me more considerate in the way I make and question whether certain works need to be fired or even exist.

What is your favourite part of the making process
It definitely has to be the experimentation, being able to constantly push the material to the point of breaking. Clay can be exceptionally temperamental. I tend to use porcelain and different varieties of black clays, so the opposite end of the scale in terms of handling and particularly drying. I’m often striving to find something new and break certain rules.

What are you working on right now
I’ve just finished the work for Haptic/Tacit - a group show where five former Hothouse participants invited our mentors to exhibit with us. Our collective focus was to create our own platform to show work that challenges the perception of what craft can be or begin to work without using labels. We all have an innate fascination with material, process, concept-led work, but we wanted to create our own context. An ongoing dialogue between the five of us and the more personal  conversations between each pairing has been vital to these two exhibitions. We are already discussing where we go from here as a group, our next venture together and other makers we may want to work with in the not so distant future. 


Kim Norton

View Jane Cairns' Directory profile

View Kim Norton's Directory profile

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