cambridge contemporary crafts

Karen Howarth

There is something very special about walking down to my garden studio, cup of tea in hand, early in the morning. Ceramics studios have a familiar smell to them: earthy, dusty … I’m not sure what it is but it tells me I’m in the right place. Since completing my MA at the Royal College of Art I have divided my time between teaching, raising a family and continuing to make.

My work is inspired by my love of nature and the outdoors; the lines and patterns within the landscape, the texture of grasses against a stormy grey sky, the variation in colour of a vast, open seascape. Photography provides the means of bringing all of this back into the studio so I can 'paint' onto clay. Sketchbook work enables me to plan but the creative work happens as I start work on the clay itself. Wall pieces and tiles have been the vehicle for my exploration of colour and texture for some time now. Recent additions to this are bowls and shallow dish forms which compliment and broaden the range of work I have to offer.

I learnt how to throw on the potter’s wheel many years ago during my A Level Art classes. It is a process which requires a balance of give and take, an understanding of the properties which can move a form from perfect to disastrous in one tiny movement. For many years I worked with texture and colour on flat clay, unable to see how my love of mark making and colour could marry with the thrown form. The answer came in simplifying the thrown form to create a surface, a canvas on which to build up the richness I had achieved on my wall pieces.

Newly thrown work is left to dry a little before coloured slip is built up in layers and interspersed with marks and texture. At this stage, far from being finished, the work has yet to go through two firings which will dramatically change the nature of the clay. After the initial firing the pieces may have more layers applied in the form of oxides and two or three different glazes. All of these layers and processes combine to create a unique richness and depth to the surface.


The works illustrated below are intended to give you a taste of what the gallery has to offer, please email us on or call us on 01223 361200 to find out which pieces are currently available. Prices range from £25 - £110.