The third in our series of Contemporary Dorset Makers, we talk with Suzette Knight who produces functional yet beautiful ceramic tableware.
So Suzette, what new projects are you working on at the moment?
My tableware range is constantly evolving, I have recently been focusing on developing my mugs. A lot of time and effort goes into these pieces, and this could be easily overlooked. The mug is, for most of us, a large part of our daily ritual. It is also a really intimate piece, touching its surfaces and then putting it to your mouth. It can really enhance your experience to enjoy, and be in the moment.
The other area I am focusing on are my more decorative pieces. I’m playing with scale and continuing to experiment with surface textures.
I am feeling very inspired at the moment.
My tableware range is in development, so far I have designed 9 pieces and they will come in three different colours. I am in the process of making a run of pieces for my Etsy shop, and for Art in Clay, Hatfield, where I will be exhibiting in August 2018.
Do you see a craft revival happening in the UK – and what does that mean for your practice?
I do, yes. I have a lot of people contacting me for classes and workshops wanting to have a go at making something in clay.
I also think that people are more aware of the importance of handmade craft, not only the appreciation of the beauty and skill involved, but also in terms of the environment, and in supporting local businesses and makers as a way of helping local communities to thrive.
The craft revival is really important to my practice as hopefully it will enable wider interest and reach more people who will want to buy my work, and enable me to continue with my passion for making.
What are the main challenges you face as an emerging maker either within the region or wider afield?
One of the main challenges for makers in my immediate location is the lack of outlets selling contemporary crafts. Also there doesn’t seem to be any exposure or promotion from local councils for buying and supporting local makers. I listen to a great American podcast called The Potters cast, and it seems to me that the Americans are more advanced in supporting and appreciating handmade local products. I am yet to know the reasons for this, but it shows that it is possible.
There is so much talent in Bournemouth, and Dorset as a whole, but not many people know where to find it.
Do you work with other creatives within Dorset or the region on collaborative work?
Not so much working collaboratively on actual pieces, but I have recently been involved in setting up a collective with 5 other local ceramicists.
Our mission is to promote ceramics locally by putting our creative heads together, exhibiting as a group, supporting each other and forging new friendships with like minded pottery geeks.
You have been attending some workshops through Culture+ this year, what have you learnt so far?
I have been working on my branding, and online and email marketing, and I am currently working on my website. I have started writing my business plan too, which is really helping to give me focus.
I have learnt about the importance of your brand, and to make sure that you have good images of your work. Marketing is really important, you could be making really good work, but if people can’t see it, you are probably not going to sell it. I’m still working on this myself, there is a lot to learn about the business of business!
And what is next for Suzette Knight Ceramics?
Eventually I would like to be represented by galleries, and be attending some recognised craft fairs. I would also like to be in relevant publications and be better known in my field. I think the main thing is that I would continue to make. To enable this I would be solely earning my living from my craft, maybe even being in a position to employ staff to help be produce my everyday tableware range.
See more from Suzette on her website here