July 25, 2024


Art Shines Through

Discovering The Avenues of Business For A Potter | Matthew Blakely | Episode 863

Discovering The Avenues of Business For A Potter | Matthew Blakely | Episode 863

Matthew Blakely | Episode 863

Matthew Blakely set up a pottery and gallery in Australia and was a selected member of The Potters Society of Australia and Craft Australia. Matthew returned to the UK in 2002 and set up a pottery there. Matthew was selected as a Fellow of The Craft Potters association, and he served as a Council member for the CPA from 2010 til 2016. In 2010 Matthew was awarded an Arts Council grant to research the making of place specific ceramics. From 2017 to 2021 Matthew was a Trustee of Clay College Stoke, a new ceramics tertiary college and has been involved in fundraising, setting up, and running the college


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In terms of shows, is that a great entryway for getting your work out to the world?

I think it’s the best because you’re face to face with the public, so you get a response, which you don’t get from galleries or online. Especially, there are a lot of different types of shows if you are starting out you can do an unselected show, eventually you want to improve your work quality and profile and do selected shows.  And then you are being represented in a group of excellent potters. They are the best, really, for me.

The second thing you talked about was galleries. How do you select a good gallery to represent your work?

That has changed depending on what I’m making. When I was making lots and lots of functional work I’d give you a very different answer to the one I will give you now. Now I am making much less quantity but very specific work. The pieces are made entirely from material from one location so it’s really important for me that the gallery is willing and able to promote the story and explain what my work is about.

When you started to make your way online was it important for you to sell through your website as apposed through another platform like Etsy or something like that?

Yes, it’s like my whole approach really. I would much rather do it myself and be entirely in control so yes, I do sell elsewhere as well online, but I sell through my website and then I am in control of everything. But the problem is promoting your work. If you are on Etsy you get that sort of community with you.

How do you go about setting up your events in a nutshell?

In a nutshell. Most events I do are more local but finding a good venue where the people will show off the work to its best and people will come to. And I have included other people as well so that’s a really nice thing to do, having mixed shows. Not just ceramics, painters and whatever. I suppose it would be like setting up a small show for yourself.

When you do workshops do you have to have your own space or can you rent other spaces to be able to pull off a good workshop?

So I do a couple of different types, I do some workshops in my own space, which isn’t that big, but I teach throwing and glaze and occasionally firing with my wood kiln. But also there are various places around the UK that run courses so I turn up and they have done all the organization and planning with the students. I give them a materials list but then I come and run the course for them.

What is the value that is brought by writing a book? What value did you get out of it?

I actually started doing it using the notes that I was using for my glaze classes because I had so many requests for more information. And also I think ceramic books are really important, I really love them, I still do , reading new ceramic books. And there are very few really good technical books being now. So partly it was to fill what I think was sort of a void. But I suppose it’s formalized my approach to developing glazes.

When you do commissions do you agree to anything people request or are you specific at what you will say yes to?

I am quite specific because some commissions would be just to frustrating to attempt. The thing that people don’t realize, I think, when they ask for a commission is the amount of work that goes into developing a new glaze. If someone comes up and says, I’ll have that mug but I want it in pink, it might take a year to develop a good quality glaze that you are happy with, for example and who is going to pay for that? I certainly don’t take everything but I take one’s that I think will be really interesting and that I will get something out of as well and that I think I will be able to do in a set time frame.


A Pioneer Pottery by Michael Cardew



Instagram: @mattblakelypottery