This year I will be once again exhibiting as part of the Arts in the Cotswolds online entry to Oxfordshire Artweeks from 1-23 May. My fellow artists and artisans include:-
Melanie Charles Artists
Sharon Highway Journal maker
Lizzie Waterfield Printmaker
Ronald Turner Artist
Lis Mann Textile Artists
Anya Simmons Artists
Penny Varley Ceramics (me)
Here is the link to our profile:
Hi. My name is Penny Varley and I am a designer maker of ceramics. I have been a professional potter for over 15 years and
it all started back in the 1980s doing 'O' level pottery at college. (do you remember 'O' levels?) Here I threw my first pot and had that light bulb moment. I had great ambitions of being a famous potter and wanting my own pottery.
Reality struck when I realised that I would need equipment, a studio and money.... I saw an advert for the civil service for a temporary position and decided to apply. It was not my first choice but I thought it would put some money in the bank. The 6 months turned into 25 years!. During that time I found an evening class doing pottery and decided to enrole. I was completely hooked. I went 3 times a week for 4 years I just could not get enough of the sticky stuff.
One Sunday morning my husband casually asked 'what are we going to do with all these pots?' I found a local craft fair, applied and then started to sell my work. I had such a buzz getting feedback from customers that I decided I really wanted to get back to my dream of the 1980s.
We moved house, and my pottery studio was built in my new garden.
My view from the studio is of the Edgehill escarpment which is part of an area of outstanding natural beauty and is a great source of inspiration for my work. The ever changing colour and shape of the woodland floor and canopy can be found in many pieces of my work.
Natural materials gathered from my garden are used to impress into the clay to give texture and form. You can see an example of this in my poppy and fennel seedhead platters.
My studio is my sanctuary from what is going on outside. When I step through the door I feel transported into another world, my world where I can make what I want when I want. I used to be a great Radio 4 fan but during lockdown switched to Radio 2. Music has always been part of my life and at a time when all my shows, galleries and workshops stopped it lifted my spirits and fuelled my creativity, My studio has everything I need, workbench, wheel, kiln and lots of other things that might come in handy one day.....
I make a variety of work from throwing on the potters wheel (Cotswold Edge bowls) to handbuilding (Sphere and Oriental Vessel). These are all made using an earthenware clay. Being passionate about the outside word and gardens I also make ceramics to enhance your garden. These use a different clay and are fired to a higher temperature to make them frost proof. I use more natural colours for this work as I want them to blend into their surroundings. Each piece of work is completely individual and is fired in the kiln a minimum of twice. There is nothing more exciting for a potter than opening the kiln, Will the work have survived? Has she blown up? How have the glazes worked? Is it the result what I was looking for? Getting an ohh ahhh moment is very satisfying.
This year during lockdown I have been experimenting with mixed media (Pembrokeshire coast) For many years we have enjoyed a holiday in a small town called Newport which looks out onto Dinas Head on the Pembrokeshire coastline. It is one of my most favourite places and I have tried capturing it on paper, but I am no 2D artist and decided that I would try to re-create it in clay. I wanted it to be big so I have used oak, acrylics and clay. What do you think? I hope to go back to Pembrokeshire really soon...
I have also been putting together a new website www.pennyvarleyceramics.co.uk where you will find a selection of my work. Items that you find in the Shop section can be posted out, and if you switch to Gallery you will find larger work that can be seen by booking an appointment. I can also offer a click and collect option. If you fancy keeping in touch with what I am getting up to, new work, events and much more then why not subscribe (free) to my blog. It would be great to have you aboard.
Prior to lockdown I was a social media anorak I have now bought a new phone and have been embracing new technology! I now have both facebook and instagram pages. If you you like to follow and share that would be fab.
If you would like to visit the studio you will be very welcome. From the 12 April I will be operating an appointment system, I have my risk assessment in place, hand sanitiser and you will be required to wear a mask. You can contact me through the new website, email email@example.com, social media or just ring me on 07486 452099 to book your visit.
If you see something you would like to own on the Shop section of the website www.pennyvarleyceramics.co.uk I can post it to you or you can click and collect just follow the links.
Work in the Gallery section can be purchased by click and collect or through your pre-booked visit. I can take credit card payments here.
Purchases through social media can be made through a secure link, or by invoice and bacs.
Please contact me if I can be of any help.
I hope you enjoy Artweeks this year and lets look forward to a brighter future with a bit of art in our lives.......