Polly Fern

Based in Norwich, Polly Fern is an illustrator and ceramicist who creates tin-glazed ceramic pieces. Polly has a BA First Class in Illustration from Norwich University of The Arts and her work has been displayed in various, world-renowned international galleries, including The Sainsbury Centre in Norwich and The MET Museum in New York. Polly’s work is illustrated by hand with drawings inspired by places, historical events and childhood stories, making each object an original work of art.

Ceramicist

Polly Fern

East of England

View all Products

THE PROCESS

Polly’s pieces are handmade from slabs of clay and bisque fired. They are dipped in a tin glaze, then painted using oxides and pigments attune to her unique, whimsical style. Polly's background in illustration makes her work extremely distinctive. She loves to create on a small scale, and to make highly decorative ceramic pieces with painterly silhouettes that maintain a hand-drawn feel.

Q&A

1. What motivates you to make?

I think the main thing that motivates me is my home environment and wanting to create original and beautiful objects. I love to create my own world and to make original objects that enrich it. Certain people can make me feel very motivated, some of my friends who share a similar passion always leave me overflowing with ideas and an urgent feeling to create something. Whether this be an idea I’ve been thinking on for a few months (or years!) or something completely new, talking to them motivates me.

I love the Norfolk and Suffolk landscape. It’s where I grew up, and have lived all my life. I am constantly discovering new things that motivate me, whether it’s an antique shop, local craft, historical building or an old folk story.

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

The main inspiration for my designs come from discovering stories. As an illustrator, I am always wanting to create characters or tell stories through my pieces. I am very much inspired by historical ceramics, including Victorian Transferware, pearlware, and the unique processes developed by ceramic companies such as Wedgwood. I collect antique ceramics, regularly visiting antique shops and local auctions, to unearth Victorian Children’s plates, Lustreware and teapots.

The borders and motifs of Victorian Transferware plates are a big influence on my own ceramics. I love their use of relief and motifs in a white glaze, to subtly highlight details. I also enjoy the limited enamel colour palettes used to spot-paint, and subsequently tend to restrict my own palettes to three or four colours per piece. The characters amongst the Victorian Staffordshire figurines have always influenced work. What I find charming about them is how the characters are all taken from moulds and duplicated hundreds of times, but are hand painted. I enjoy the variation within the same characters and ponder why they might have unusual or comical expressions on their faces, or how the detail comes to look not quite right. This is something that I try to maintain within my work and I like to paint characters or animals from memory rather than photographs.

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

The illustrator in me loves to create on a small scale, and to create very decorative pieces with the shapes maintaining a hand-drawn line to their silhouettes.

My original ceramics process evolved from experimental drawing techniques, where I used very detailed hand cut paper characters, collaging them on the clay to create a narrative scene. There is always a relationship and link back to what I’ve learnt as an illustrator, alongside new ceramic techniques which I’ve learned along the way.

My Romantic Vase and Platter collections evolved from wanting to create vessels, but not having any interest in throwing. Therefore I developed an ongoing series of shapes which I can build by hand. My Romantic Vases are very much focused on a particular form, whether this be inspired by an antique tea caddy, piece of furniture, textiles, or the facade of a building. They are then decorated with hand cut relief elements, or slip trailing. Sometimes my favourite part of the process is seeing all of the plain white bisque fired vessels, before dipping them in a Tin glaze and hand painting using oxides and underglazes. These loose paintings on the ceramics make each piece an original work of art.

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

There are a few moments and objects I am particularly proud of. Firstly developing my ongoing Romantic Vase collections. Every time I create a new shape and fire the unique decorations I am excited to see the results.

I was very proud to do my first solo pop-up exhibition in Bloomsbury in October 2019, it was an incredible feeling to bring together all my various collections and incorporate fabrics, and to display using my own furniture from my home! It felt like I had created a pop-up home that people could visit and feel like they had entered my illustrated world. I also feel proud to have worked with The MET Museum on a bespoke collection of ceramic brooches in my first year after graduating, and to have illustrated for Homes & Antiques magazine directly after graduating too.

5. What is your dream project?

I love developing new products and seeing my work used in various mediums, such as wallpapers, lamp bases and lampshades. I don’t have a particular dream project in mind, but would love to continue working on developing new products with an emphasis, where possible, on working with fellow makers, small businesses and craftspeople, to create small and unique collections.

To be kept informed about new collections from Polly Fern, please email [email protected]

ALL PRODUCTS

 

View as Grid List

10 Products found

  1. Foxglove Table Lamp
    Foxglove Table Lamp
    Polly Fern
    £2,140
  2. Finch Table Lamp
    Finch Table Lamp
    Polly Fern
    £2,140
  3. Canary Table Lamp
    Canary Table Lamp
    Polly Fern
    £2,140
  4. Norfolk Fields Romantic Platter
    Norfolk Fields Romantic Platter
  5. Escaped Canary Romantic Bowl
    Escaped Canary Romantic Bowl
  6. Auricula and Horse Romantic Platter
    Auricula and Horse Romantic Platter
  7. Setting the Table Romantic Platter
    Setting the Table Romantic Platter
    Out of stock
    Polly Fern
    £1,160
    Out of stock
  8. Canary and Swan Romantic Vessel
    Canary and Swan Romantic Vessel
    Out of stock
    Polly Fern
    £1,160
    Out of stock
  9. Creature Caddy Romantic Vessel
    Creature Caddy Romantic Vessel
  10. Pair of Canaries Romantic Vessel
    Pair of Canaries Romantic Vessel
    Out of stock
    Polly Fern
    £1,160
    Out of stock
View as Grid List

10 Products found