Robyn Cove

Robyn Cove received her BA in Ceramics from Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2008 and has been making pots ever since. Drawing inspiration from both traditional and contemporary practices, Robyn’s most apparent references are Korean, Japanese and British studio pottery. Her work is full of rustic warmth, combining subtle lines and textures with a special stoneware clay blend, which produces toasted-oatmeal coloured ceramics. Each vessel created by Robyn for The New Craftsmen is instinctively produced, and one-of-a-kind.

Ceramicist

Robyn Cove

Wales

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THE PROCESS

Robyn’s vessels are hand built with her own stoneware clay blends. After throwing the base at the wheel, she will continue building by hand using a variety of tools. Once fired, Robyn’s pieces are then covered in transparent glaze and often hand-painted with a cobalt blue iron oxide blend. Using a thick glaze encourages the brushwork to slip down her vases, creating an impression of movement and distinctive variety on each surface.

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Q&A

1. What motivates you to make?

The feeling of clay in my hands is one of my biggest motivators. The therapeutic quality of the material and the concentration and focus required when building a pot is like meditation. Being in my studio makes me feel safe and comfortable, it is where I can relax and get lost in a task for hours. I feel at one with the clay and there is nothing else in my mind at the time of making.

I get excited when I start to see the shape and character of a pot growing and I feed off the creative process of tweaking and prying the shape out of the clay. Through this process I often change the original idea as I go, subconsciously sending the whole body of work into a new direction.

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

Perhaps, surprisingly, I am strongly influenced by contemporary slipware as well as the more obvious Eastern style stoneware from Japan and Korea. I adore the free and playful way many slipware potters make, capturing the softness of the clay and the making process in the finished pieces. The apparent simplicity of Eastern ceramics, particularly those of the Mingei art movement, inspire me to make good shapes.

The history of British Studio Pottery shows both of these influences. Bernard Leach brought Eastern ideas and concepts to Britain, and Michael Cardew combined both Leach’s aesthetic and the country pottery style. Although my own work evolves away from these two influencers, the overall aesthetic is still there. This can all be recognised in my brushwork decoration, the free pouring of some glazes, and the shapes of my pots.

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

I learned very early on that art and craft is not something to complete, it is something to develop. At college, I was initially attracted to clay because it has such a slow making process, and each part requires careful timing and attention. I practiced throwing on the potter’s wheel obsessively and later, at University, I made pots both on the wheel and by handbuilding (as I do now). I make several mixes of various clays but my favourites are the heavily textured clays which show off the tool marks best. I am a very visual person, holding images and shapes in my mind far easier than I do words or numbers. I do very little sketchbook work, with most of my development done while making.

I begin a coil pot by throwing the base then building the sides up with hand rolled coils, smoothing with tools and paddling them to thin and condense the walls of the pot. I focus on the silhouette and try to achieve a full shape. I resist the temptation to overly smooth the surface and I especially like the corrugated rib and paddle marks. When I reach the top, I add the final coil then spin the pot on the wheel and use water to shape the rim (I like to add a bit of a wave or a kink to it for character) this is a satisfying moment which makes the whole pot come alive.

I use a variety of surface finishes, including oxides and clay, matte, satin and gloss glazes, textured glazes and decorative brushwork. The application is mostly poured but can be sponged or brushed on according to the finish I want. Regarding finish, I plan very little until the piece has been built and bisque fired. Then I take time to sit and look at the pot, to visualise in my mind's eye what might work and how I want to finish it.

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

My proudest moment so far in my career is my solo exhibition exhibited in 2018: Not Just for Pretty - Robyn Cove in relation to Michael Cardew. I was invited to make a new body of work inspired by the Ann Carr collection of Cardew pots in Aberystwyth Ceramics Collection and Archive, at Aberystwyth University. With funding from the Arts Council of Wales I worked for a year, building a selection of new pots, which were then shown alongside pots by Michael Cardew. It was a great opportunity to explore new shapes and surfaces. Most of the pots I produce now have some painted oxide decoration and this began during the project. The curator bought two of my pots for Aberystwyth Ceramic Collection.

5. What is your dream project?

I plan to open a gallery and workshop, from this space I would run residencies and educational programs focusing on the history of British Studio Pottery. I am very lucky to have a great uncle who is a cousin to Michael Cardew and who collects pots. I have therefore been able to handle the pots in his collection and discuss with him the qualities of individual pieces. This has been an invaluable experience for me as a maker and I would like to be able to offer this experience to other makers in the future.

 

ALL PRODUCTS

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4 Products found

  1. Scribble Vessel
    Scribble Vessel
    Robyn Cove
    £660
  2. Arch Shoulder Vessel
    Arch Shoulder Vessel
    Robyn Cove
    £1,240
  3. Lugged Vessel
    Lugged Vessel
    Robyn Cove
    £1,380
  4. Angled Vessel
    Angled Vessel
    Out of stock
    Robyn Cove
    £640
    Out of stock
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4 Products found