An interview with ceramics artist Freya Bramble-Carter
‘Ceramics is about stretching myself, pouring my inside out.’
By: Julie Tanner for MIRROR WATER
MW: Did having a family background in ceramics make it easier or harder to forge your own style of pottery? How did you develop your pottery style?
FREYA BRAMBLE-CARTER: I think having my father as my role model working with this material meant I was heavily flavoured by his style, but that’s only because I really, really like it! Other ceramics never initiated me in the same way. There is a depth of something magical within the essence of my father’s sculptures that I saw in my living spaces growing up—it drew me in. He gave me a strong skills backing so that I can make what I want.
Now I go with my own flow and develop my style very organically. Sometimes I’m inspired by things that I’ve seen, other times I’m stretching myself, pouring my inside out. It’s interesting to see what I can pull out of me. Overall I am not attached to a limited style; I’d rather free fall for now. I say ‘limited’ just because I don’t like feeling restricted and I think I would be bored if I narrowed my style. Also, mirroring this ever-changing world, it’s exciting to ride these waves of change, stay open and fluid in my self and work. I say all this but from the outside many people would say I already have a strong style.
MW: Do you have a vision for a vessel that you then try to recreate, or do you start throwing and see where it takes you?
FREYA BRAMBLE-CARTER: Sometimes when I’m creating I have a vision or a feeling and I might capture the essence of it with a simple line drawing. If I’m still excited about it and it doesn’t leave my mind, I make it. Other times it’s very nice to feel free. I tell myself: These are my hands and the only force upon them is something in me. It’s so amazing how we turn a lump of mud into something totally different. I’m constantly reminding myself of this. Earth is so forgiving, it’s a blessing to work with it!
MW: Do you have a favourite tool?
FREYA BRAMBLE-CARTER: My favourite tool is the metal kidney. It is quite sharp, very easy to cut yourself with, and I use this to refine my shapes when I’m throwing on the wheel. It compresses the clay, helping to strengthen and straighten a clay wall. I must say the ultimate best tools are definitely these wiggly fingers I was born with. My hands have changed, though. They have developed muscle and are a lot chunkier than my twin sister’s. Our hands used to be identical, now mine are like Olympic-ly strong, weathered pointers with no nails!
MW: It seems as though pottery has its own language, words like sgraffito, chattering, crazing etc. Do you have a favourite pottery-related word or concept?
FREYA BRAMBLE-CARTER: Yes, pottery does have its own language. Too much lingo is not necessary, the vocabulary is only good as a shortcut to a description. Some words are quite satisfying, like ‘fettle’, which means cleaning up edges from a moulded piece. I remember this one well because I was corrected on it by a mature potter.