Elaine Bolt

Ceramic artist Elaine Bolt’s work is guided by a sense of narrative and steeped in the context of the local surroundings. An alumni of the Crafts Council’s Hothouse scheme, Elaine works with local clay and mixed-media to create pieces which aim to blur the boundaries between the made and the found. Elaine teaches and lectures in ceramics at various institutions, including her Brighton-based studio, and her work is often informed by the colours and tones found in the landscape of the South Downs.


Elaine Bolt

South East England

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The pieces are crafted from porcelain and terracotta. They are thrown on the potter's wheel, and loops are added once leather-hard. The addition of willow, twigs, and natural materials, sourced locally in Sussex, connects Elaine's work to the surrounding landscape, thus creating a tangible link between the object and the source of its inspiration.



1. What motivates you to make?

Making and working with our hands is part of what makes us human. For me, it feels like an instinct and a need. It takes me to a different state of mind when I’m working with my hands. Beyond the instinctual level, I find my mind is often bursting with ideas – ones that I wake up with in the middle of the night. Clay is a particularly malleable material for expressing such ideas, but it also comes with its own distinct history and set of conventions. Part of my motivation at the moment is to work within, as well as play with, those conventions; making use of the familiar vessel form and subtly changing how it’s seen and used

2. What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?

A lot of my inspiration comes from the natural environment and specifically my local landscape of the Sussex Downs. The colours and tones of the landscape find their way into my work; deep flint-blacks through to soft grey stony glazes and chalk white tones, all feature. Natural markings are sometimes made on the surface of my pieces using the shape of seeds to create texture. The details of the countryside around me are also key. Focusing in on the small wonders of nature using twigs, leaves, seeds and buds. Natural materials such as twigs are used directly in many of my current pieces, with willow and wisteria added as a form of handle. This subverts the handle into a purely decorative form, allowing twigs to rise from the vessel, as if grown on the pot.

3. What is your unique approach to your craft, and how have you honed your skills?

I use a variety of techniques to achieve my desired results. I make use of the potter’s wheel to throw vessels, as well as hand-building techniques for the small ceramic additions and pieces.

I also employ mixed media to create my pieces; adding twigs and other natural materials to form the finished work. When creating my pieces I often add coloured oxides to porcelain and stoneware to achieve the desired tones. Once fired, I compose the gathered natural materials together with the vessel to form a finished piece. These processes have been developed over years, through practice and experimentation, but my experience with clay has been a lifelong journey.

4. What is your definition or proudest moment as a maker so far?

My work has changed and developed gradually and significantly over the years, and now includes making vessels and mixed media wall pieces as well as large sculptural installations. Having worked with clay for many years, I am glad I finally pursued an MA in Ceramics (graduating in 2012) which pushed my work in new directions and developed my practice as a maker. Since then, I have aimed to follow my own intentions to produce work that stimulates me. My current range of Willow and Woodland Vessels have been a delight to pursue as they bring together materials that offer new perspectives on ceramics and on the natural environment. But I hope to never sit still for too long.

5. What is your dream project?

My dream project changes from day to day. At the moment I would like to continue playing with scale and make more work that is sculptural in form. I also draw a great deal of stimulation from working collaboratively with other makers in parallel disciplines. Currently I’m working towards a project with a jeweller which will bring new ideas, insights and practices into my work, as well as hers. Finding new inspiration is always the dream, and I hope to keep developing my work. I find it so stimulating when something hits the mark and takes me off in a new direction.



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Products 1-12 of 23 found

  1. White Leaf Woodland Vessel I
    White Leaf Woodland Vessel I
  2. Black Elm Bud Woodland Vessel I
    Black Elm Bud Woodland Vessel I
  3. Berries Woodland Vessel I
    Berries Woodland Vessel I
    Elaine Bolt
  4. Grey Flower Woodland Vessel I
    Grey Flower Woodland Vessel I
  5. White Elm Bud Woodland Vessel I
    White Elm Bud Woodland Vessel I
  6. Foxglove Woodland Vessel I
    Foxglove Woodland Vessel I
  7. Grey Flower Woodland Vessel II
    Grey Flower Woodland Vessel II
  8. Red Berry Woodland Vessel I
    Red Berry Woodland Vessel I
  9. Black Flower Woodland Vessel I
    Black Flower Woodland Vessel I
  10. Willow Weft Vessel in Chalk White IX
    Willow Weft Vessel in Chalk White IX
  11. Willow Vessel in Stone Grey III
    Willow Vessel in Stone Grey III
  12. Willow Vessel in Chalk White IV
    Willow Vessel in Chalk White IV
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Products 1-12 of 23 found