Text Box: Text Box: Helen Willis

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I trained at Loughborough College of Art in the 1960s, gained my PGCE from Bristol University and had completed twenty-seven years of teaching ceramics by the time I retired in 2005.


My work is inspired by the organic shapes and surfaces that I see in the garden around my workshop. I look for strength in the curves and try to express the power of growth. I am also interested in the patterns and colours that develop on the pots during close contact with the flames and chemicals that combust around the pots during a wood firing.


I prefer to coil my shapes but will often use a thrown form as a starting point and then add to it. I like the tactile and visual contrast of strongly textured surfaces next to smooth burnished ones. One holds the oxides and the other is a canvas for the fire to paint its patterns on.


I smoke-fire my pots in my wood-fired bin or a pit, when I have the opportunity.


I give my sculptural forms specific names usually derived from the plant form that inspired the shape and texture. The idea is to emphasise their unique quality.