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  • Triumph of the Immaterial by Phoebe Cummings for the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize (detail) © Victoria and Albert Museum

Why pottery is having a moment

We look at the craft

It’s good for your mental health
It engages the ‘effort-driven reward circuit’, which provides meaningful relief from depression on a neurochemical level. As educator Jenni Lukasiewicz puts it “You put clay on the wheel. It gives you a little fight, and you get past it, and there is this object.”  That “little fight,” or the resistance the clay gives back, is part of what gives the practice power, and what can alter the brain’s natural pathways, helping alleviate symptoms of depression.

Celebs are getting in on the act
Brad Pit, supermodel Emily Ratajkowski and Spider Man star Laura Harris are all new fans of getting down and dirty with clay.

It is so satisfying to watch
From the BBC’s Potter’s Wheel interlude film of the 50s to the recent Great British Pottery Throw Down and that scene in Ghost -people love watching pots being thrown – and now potters like Tortus and Jon Almeda are delighting millions with their short Instagram films.

The art world has woken up to clay
There’s a long history of artists working with clay from Picasso and Chagall to contemporary artists Ai Wei Wei and Lubaina Himid but now fine art galleries are waking up to clay. Gagosian Gallery showed Edmund de Waal at Frieze, there were recent retrospectives of Ken Price at the Met in New York and Betty Woodman at the ICA. Last year Tate St Ives re-opened with a big ceramics exhibition That Continuous Thing, The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has just opened Things of Beauty Growing and Tate Modern installed a working ‘ceramics factory’ with Clare Twomey last year.

Ceramics are seriously collectable
LOEWE's Creative Director JW Anderson drinks his tea from a Lucie Rie tea set and a recently discovered ‘unloved’ Hans Coper went for a record £381,000 at auction – studio ceramics are hot hot hot right now. But for those less flash with the cash you can start collecting at places like Ceramic Art London, Handmade in Britain, New Designers, Cockpit Arts Great Northern Craft Fair , Art in Clay and graduate shows each June.  And of course visit our Directory for inspo.

You don’t need lots of money to start making
Woman’s Hour Craft Prize winner Phoebe Cummings started working with raw clay after graduating with no money so she could test out ideas and then re-use her clay. You can practice your skills with play doh, clay or air dry clay. So if you fancy having a go – try this lovely Sam McAndrew pinch pot tutorial. But if you do want to further your skills…

There are more places than ever to learn 
Membership studios are cropping up all over the place from Turning Earth and the Kiln Rooms in London to Clay Studio Manchester and Glasgow Ceramics Studio.

And of course our very own Hey Clay! which gives thousands of people the chance to have a go at pottery for free at a local venue. The next Hey Clay! will be from 17-19 May 2019.