5 minutes with Yorkshire potter Deiniol Williams | Living North

Interview: Deiniol Williams, Yorkshire Potter


Deiniol Williams
Ahead of his appearance at the York Ceramics Fair in November, we caught up with Yorkshire-based potter Deiniol Williams to talk all things ceramics

Did you always want to be an artist? 

From a very young age I have always been creative – I spent a lot of time drawing and painting with a view of becoming a designer one day. 

Did you start off as a ceramicist or did you take more of a circuitous artistic route to where you are now? 

It was while studying on a 3D Design applied arts course at Manchester Metropolitan University that I became interested in ceramics. I had never really given it much thought until then, but something about the material connected with me and I've stuck with it ever since. I did have a period where I worked as a carpenter due to personal and financial circumstances, but the lure of ceramics drew me back.

Tell us a bit about your ceramic practice. 

I create wheel thrown ceramics with stone inclusions and I mainly use wood-ash based glazes. The work is all fired in a wood firing kiln. I have always tried to incorporate local materials into my work in some way, but the inclusions are now becoming my central focus in the way I produce work. As well as the wheel thrown stoneware, I also make earthenware tiles on the side which started after my stint as a carpenter. The small family firm that I worked for made traditional medieval and Tudor oak doors and furniture, using both traditional and modern techniques. I was asked if I made tiles as they were thinking of branching out into kitchens, so I started researching medieval tiles and spent quite some time testing and developing tile making techniques. Unfortunately, the kitchen project didn't come to fruition, but I continued looking into tiles as a way of having a more commercial side to my ceramics business.

Creating ceramics is, by its very nature, a hands-on craft – is that part of the appeal for you? 

The hands-on part of ceramics is the core of why I do it. I get so much enjoyment from the immediacy of working and manipulating the material.

Your recent Geodisc series incorporates stone gathered from Norland Moor in West Yorkshire – does the location matter? 

The locations that are referenced in my Geodisc series are places near to where I live and work, I want to physically incorporate these areas into the work. The stones dictate the shape and the final look of the work, meaning the finished product has a direct link to its place of creation. I hope to develop this aspect further and start collecting stones from other significant places.

What are you looking forward to most about York Ceramics Fair? 

The York Ceramics Fair has opened up a new audience for me, so I'm looking forward to meeting both existing and new customers. I feel that due to the size of the fair, customers aren't completely overwhelmed so they have time to really look at the work that is on show and speak to each potter or artist. 

York is also home to the Centre of Ceramic Art – how important is it that ceramics are recognised in this way? 

Any way of promoting and celebrating the ceramic arts is vital especially in the current climate and CoCA is a welcome addition. I do believe that ceramics is being slowly viewed as a serious art form within the wider general public, and a venue such as the CoCA helps to reinforce this.

Some of your tiles were used in the film Johnny English Strikes Again – how did that come about? 

I was approached by the production buyer for the third Johnny English film to supply replica tiles for a medieval castle set. I ended up supplying around 200 tiles which would be installed at the back of a large fireplace in the castle. It turned out to be an extremely tight turnaround (which seems to be the norm in the film industry), so it kept me very busy for a few weeks to get everything ready for the deadline. I was warned, however, that the tiles may not be visible in the final edit of the film due to camera angles or scene cuts, which unfortunately turned out to be the case. Although I was disappointed, it was a great project to work on and I would welcome another chance to do something similar.

You run taster courses and drop-in sessions – can most people handle a potter’s wheel? 

To supplement my ceramics practice, I also run some throwing courses which are aimed mainly at beginners. Most of my students have never touched clay, but I'm a very patient teacher and always guarantee that they'll leave with a couple of pots. I started running an evening drop-in session after I was asked to by students who wanted to practice and develop their throwing skills and other skills associated with ceramics. The evening session is proving very popular, and I now have a range of students who are either throwing pots on the wheel or hand-building. I thoroughly enjoy the teaching and watching students develop their skills.

What’s next for you? 

As well as the York Ceramics Fair, I have various group exhibitions this year which is keeping me really busy. In the long term, I plan to continue developing my stone inclusion work and have a few new ideas which I would like to explore, which I hope will lead onto a solo exhibition at some point in the near future.

You can see Deiniol's work at the York Ceramics Fair at Yorkshire Museum from 23rd–24th November. 






Published in: October 2019

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