Working from his Manchester studio, Joe Hartley makes ceramic objects and homewares that communicate ideas about the way we interact with objects and space. Inspired by quotidian tasks, his objects have a precise function and considered design.
Central to Joe’s practice is his potter’s wheel, which he uses to create clean, minimal ceramic pieces, often including secondary materials, such as cork, wood and textiles. In 2014, Joe was shortlisted for the prestigious Perrier-Jouet Art Salon Prize.
Working from his Manchester studio, Joe Hartley makes ceramic objects and homewares that communicate ideas about the way we interact with objects and space. Inspired by quotidian tasks, his objects have a precise function and considered design. Central to Joe’s practice is his potter’s wheel, which he uses to create clean, minimal ceramic pieces, often including secondary materials, such as cork, wood and textiles. In 2014, Joe was shortlisted for the prestigious Perrier-Jouet Art Salon Prize.
Joe’s ceramics are both hand-built and thrown. With an inherent curiosity in materials, Joe is influenced by his cross-discipline work across textiles and woodwork, which continues to build his desire to create pieces free from disciplinary conventions. Joe's latest piece for The New Craftsmen, the ceramic Tiered Side Table, utilises a mechanical tool used in many ceramic studios to create table legs – its original function being for the shaping and preparation of clay.
1. What motivates you to make?
I’m intrigued by the influence that making can have on a place, and the people that represent that place, regardless of situation whether that be tabletop, interior or city scale. Through the exploration of materials and processes that relate to them, my work naturally embodies space and place in unusual and often humorous ways. On a day-to-day basis, I am genuinely excited by the possibility of what might emerge from an open minded approach to making, to find new and progressive ways of doing things and making things happen. All of this motivates and pushes me to change things as much as possible.
2. What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?
I am without a doubt inspired by whatever’s at my fingertips at any given point. This might be a material (commonly clay), a place, an object or perhaps a group of people. Because of this constantly shifting and flexible source of inspiration, my work tends to change quite rapidly and outcomes are varied in appearance, but also in scale and material.
3. What is your unique approach to your craft, and how have you honed your skills?
I like to design and make objects with an interrogative and robust approach. Through this, I attempt to advance traditional systems of production in order to create fresh and unlikely outcomes from a mixed palette of materials. The objects I make tend to be useful as I’m interested in the idea that the maker represents just part of that object's life. Its use could be seen as the completion, or in fact, a continuation, of the making process.
The potter's wheel is a common feature in the ceramic work I produce. I was lucky enough to have been introduced to pottery from an early age and I’ve had the process at my fingertips for a long time. I’m besotted by the magic and the immediacy of it. I enjoy the flexibility, how fast you can adjust form and size – the wheel can act as the most elegant design tool. I can’t think of another process that enables such live and rapid adjustment of 3D shape in front of your eyes. When described like that, it’s easy to forget it’s a 4000 year old process…
4. What is your defining or proudest moment as a maker so far?
When I graduated in Three Dimensional Design from Manchester Metropolitan University, I was incredibly fortunate to win New Designer of the Year at New Designers 2012. This was an incredible springboard to start a practice with.
5. What is your dream project?
I am so lucky to already be working on some incredibly meaningful projects. I currently work with Grizedale Arts in Cumbria on a range of projects, utilising my skills to inspire and teach ways of making to people who might not have thought it was for them. I would like to continue this work and develop it further. I think the work I make and sell through The New Craftsmen is massively beneficial, and in fact pivotal, to this side of my practice as it illustrates an incredibly high level of skill and creativity, which in turn brings confidence to myself and the people taking part.