Fenella Smith is an up and coming ceramicist with a beautiful new collection of tableware. ACHICA Living catches up with her to find out what makes her world, and her potter’s wheel, go round…
Did you always want to be a ceramicist?
I’ve always collected pottery and come from a very creative family so I guess it’s in my genes. My grandmother had a range called ‘Cube’ that was produced in the 1920s by Foley China and I was always fascinated by it. I love the wealth of diversity in shape and design.
When did you get into pottery?
Pottery is something I really fell into although I have a dresser in my kitchen that my grandfather made during the war and it’s crammed with pottery I have collected over the years. I remember my first piece of pottery aged 7 - a cress hedgehog, I was so proud of him and he still lives at my parent’s house!
I was looking for the perfect jug for some flowers one day and I couldn’t find it so I thought I’d look at making my own. I had a really clear vision of what I wanted my pieces to look like, but I also wanted them to serve a function. Form and function are rarely found together nowadays so I wanted to achieve this first and foremost.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I am inspired greatly by my childhood and the wonderful memories I have of growing up. For example, the Buttons range was inspired by Trudie an old family friend who had the most amazing collection of vintage clothes and costume jewellery - she also had drawers full of buttons!
I also really believe in the power of day-dreaming, I was scolded a lot at school for gazing out of the window but it is in these moments I think we truly have our best and clearest ideas. Our lives are filled with technology to distract us which I think is a shame, whenever I am on a train or in a queue I put my phone away and let my mind wander, I always come up with a idea, my notebook is full of them!
How has your family played a part in your designs?
I am fortunate to have a very close family. I have two older brothers Gregor and Myles who run animation agency Brothers McLeod (Greg designed my animals mugs - below). My parents are huge fun and have always let us follow our dreams. I remember as a child mum would wrap us up all cosy and warm and send us off on adventures around the fields by our house, collecting fruit and hunting for our pet chickens that had escaped.
I also have a wonderful partner Simon who has been very interested and supportive in the pottery. My step-children are also fantastic, telling me what they like and don’t like – oh and testing the ware to destruction!
How have you achieved such a lot in such a short space of time?
I think it is because I am so passionate about it and because my father instilled such a strong work ethic in me. He is my inspiration, he worked incredibly hard to provide the perfect childhood for my brothers and I, but he didn’t spoil us. We have learned his values of integrity, customer service and good old fashioned hard work.
What's your home style?
It’s quite a mix! I love to be cosy but I also love light rooms so there is a lot of glass and light but I have deliciously squidgy sofas that hug you when you sit in them at the end of a busy day. I am very influenced by my mother’s taste, she has a wonderful gift of making a room beautifully elegant as well as homely and welcoming.
What are your tips on creating a special table when entertaining?
I love the French style of entertaining, simple yet considered and elegant. I think it is worth investing in a few key pieces like good quality cutlery and beautiful table linen. It will last a lifetime and beyond if you care for it properly.
What's your top decorating tip?
Patience pays off! Don’t rush the job.
What trends do you see coming through in tablewares?
I am seeing a real desire for tea-cups and saucers again. There seem to be a lot of independent tea shops popping up, which I think is fabulous. I have just designed a cup and saucer so I am looking forward to releasing that next year...
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Emma Morton Turner, Guest Editor
View all posts by Emma Morton Turner, Guest Editor