In Conversation With: Ceramic Artist, Ali Tomlin

Keep Creativity Going –

Taylor Howes came across contemporary ceramic artist Ali Tomlin when she was nominated for our Keep Creativity Going campaign to be profiled. Ali’s work speaks for itself, utilising bold colours, strong lines & elegant shapes we knew this was an artisan we had to profile. We asked her for some insight into her beautiful ceramic pieces, her career and where she draws her inspiration from.

When were you founded?

I first tried my hand at pottery twenty years ago while working as a graphic designer. Unexpectedly, clay took over and I started selling my work at local events a few years later.

I throw because even now, I still love the immediacy of it and the thrill of something fully formed appearing out of what was a lump of mud just minutes earlier.

How would you describe your craft?

All of my work is wheel thrown porcelain. I use it for its smooth, white surface and quality for making clean, elegant shapes as a perfect canvas for my colours and marks to create my range of contemporary ceramics.

I work with the dry, chalky surface, applying a bold, but muted palette of stains, oxides and slips, splashing and sponging away areas, adding inlaid and sgraffito lines, aiming to create imperfect and unpredictable marks. Most decorating is carried out on the wheel to convey a feeling of movement and spontaneity, I’m drawn to the idea of a static object conveying movement.

I have always drawn and designed and love the energy of random lines or marks, from a sketch, painting, beach combing. Anything is potential, found or seen. I draw and paint, alongside making pots, and enjoy how a simple line or mark can completely alter a piece and how the same shapes repeated, but with very different decoration, can form a cohesive family.

What does creativity mean to you?

Creativity means you look at the world sideways, if that makes sense. The smallest, most unpromising things can be inspiring or just exciting. It also means you’re never bored, there’s always something you want to do, to try or to make. And really, we get to make a living (hopefully!) by playing. It is for these reasons that for me creativity means I am very lucky.

What is your favourite commission / project you’ve ever undertaken?

I really like being challenged to do something I haven’t tried yet. I was commissioned to make eight wash basins last year for a holiday home in Greece.

Although they’re basically very big bowls, I really loved working on that scale, finding new colours I hadn’t used before and knowing they were going to be looked at every day. I also really liked the idea that they’d have water splashing into them creating all sorts of refractions over the colours.

What are your personal style signifiers?

A white, porcelain background to all of my pots and my red ‘A’ mark. The consistent white background lets me use a whole raft of different colours and styles, which is ever evolving, while keeping everything looking like a family.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

From everything and anywhere!! My last colour combination was from a plate of food that I’d seen on Masterchef!

To find out more about Ali’s work click here.