a conversation with Olivia Fiddes

How did you become interested in ceramics?
I used clay a bit at school, from primary school to A Level Art. As I got older I was interested in all art mediums but I always found clay more forgiving than, say, painting. Often you can take a step back with clay if you make a mistake or don't like something. If you are doing a big painting or drawing and you do something you don't like, a lot of the time that's you screwed and you have to start again. I also like that it's quite physical and messy. 

Please tell us what techniques you use in your work.
I use hand building techniques like coiling, slab building and pinching. They don't need a pottery wheel, just a few small tools. They are quite traditional ways of working - people use them all around the world and have done for years. It's nice and simple but expressive. If you Google it you can see some incredible, huge pots made using coiling etc - I'm in awe. 
I've also started sharing some of my non-ceramic art, like drawings that I usually do in continuous line. Getting used to sharing my ceramics has given me the confidence to do this more, so I will be doing it a lot more often in the future!

You work with reclaimed clay; what is the importance of sustainability in your work?
I don't like to waste! I'm the person that takes all the leftovers home from a restaurant. No shame. So that translates to my ceramic work. I use the reclaimed clay from the shared studio I work in. I think it should be in-built with everyone, re-using etc. We don't need to constantly consume new things when there is perfectly good stuff around if you use a little imagination. Occasionally I use other clay, like porcelain, if it is a particular piece that calls for it but most of the time I'll use reclaim. 

Describe your favourite corner in your studio.
There's a good spot in the shared studio I work in - if you're there early you are in with a chance of getting it. It's a table on its own with a good view out to the garden. I like my privacy when I'm making things so it's the best spot for space and being anti-social. 
I also work at home. There are loads of shelves on one wall in my sitting room so these are filled with big vases I've made. It's nice to be able to display them properly like this. 

What's your favourite object right now?
Probably Harry Were's hand knitted t-shirt. I don't have one but I love them.

What are you looking forward to in the future?
Doing more one-off big vases and hopefully having them displayed or photographed with some incredible flowers. Also, pushing myself with more drawing and little films with my ceramics. All fun stuff. 


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