Continuing our series exploring lives of creative people living and working in the country.
Charlotte Cadzow is a potter and artist living and working in East Lothian. She established her first pottery during the mid- nineties, on the family farm in West Lothian and since then has produced beautiful decorative and functional pieces for everyday use in the home and sculptural pieces for display.
Today she operates from a small studio tucked in a shady, green corner of her garden where she makes beautiful ceramics inspired by the natural world and the stylised animals icons of ancient mythology.
Throughout her career Charlotte has exhibited in prominent galleries at home and internationally, including the Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh. Her work is also sold at the Renaissance Club, Archerfield.
Currently Charlotte is working on a collaborative show at New Hopetoun Gardens, aptly titled ‘Art in the Garden’ – opening June 28th. She also sells work to the public from her studio and its many shelves are filled to bursting with her ceramics.
Her worked is varied and themes ebb and flow; fish, beasts, birds, shells and flowers all feature in more or less abstracted form but always in possession of great warmth and a quiet magic.
“I’m fascinated by the idea of metamorphosis and transformation, and the power of the animal as a symbol for the Egyptians, the Celts and the Norse. I take a lot of my inspiration from books and visits to museums. I also really love the shapes and forms of early Korean and Japanese pottery, and the graceful lines of Greek amphora.”
The Egyptian influence is clearly present in her animal guardian jars that are part of a loose series of handmade utility pieces: bowls, mugs, jars and vases. Quirky, elegant objects for people who love to fill their homes with interesting beautiful things. Tiny white doves perch on the handles of shapely porcelain mugs and more fluttering doves encircle pale shallow bowls, each one handmade and unique. The dove’s romantic associations would make either an apt wedding gift and the mugs would be the perfect gift for someone who appreciates sipping from a something pretty.
Charlotte also accepts private and public commissions, recently she produced a range of stoneware children’s ceramics for Edinburgh Preserves, sold nationally by in National Trust shops.
There’s great humour and playfulness in Charlotte’s children’s designs. At the bottom of each mug, or bowl hides a chubby little secret – maybe a shark, or a duck, or even a car tyre – a fun incentive for any child to finish up and a classy bit of novelty likely to lodge deep in a child’s imagination where it will always be remembered. Not surprisingly the range has all but sold out.
Charlotte says she would love to make more but it’s a struggle to find the time. She explains that all studio time is subject to the demands of family life. She and her husband have 3 young children and as anyone who’s juggled working creatively, or in any way, from home with a family must know, it’s all too easy to be knocked flat by the maternal tsunami, to allow dust to gather in the workspace, to mothball ambition and defer creativity in favour of a regular income. But Charlotte has withstood this challenge, she combines pottery with a part-time teaching commitment and is realistic about the commercial viability of her work, hence her enthusiasm for projects like the Edinburgh Preserves children’s range.
“I usually only manage a couple of mornings a week and the odd evening in the studio, so whatever I make I have to be able to sell, it has to be time well spent.” she says. So time is precious.
‘I have so many ideas. I have started making giant lily pad bowls for the outdoor use, as part of the New Hopetoun exhibition. I’m generally working on something new.’
She also points out two elegant pale bluey-green frost resistant garden pots etched with Egyptian Deities – the Ibis and the Jackal are recognizable. The pots are gorgeous and would look stunning with simple cascades of old fashioned annuals tumbling over their sides. From here it looks like they’ll do very well indeed.
‘‘And I’ve been working on these.’ She lifts a pale clay tile baring the impression of the whiskered silhouette of a barley flower, its soft gentle movement captured perfectly in the clay. There are other tiles featuring cow parsley – delicate and decorative the tiles that would look beautiful hanging together on a wall.
She goes on to say that she’s as happy making sculptural pieces like her winged blue oxide Sphinxes, each around a foot tall – her Garden Guardians – as she is crafting her playful range of children’s ceramics. And to the casual eye this rings true. In everything there is the same simple elegance and lightness of touch that comes from aesthetic sincerity and immense skill with the material.
Charlotte may produce varied work stimulated by a range of creative influences and commercial realities but her first love is for the material and this is subtly apparent in each finished piece. She likes the colour of the material to be evident, preferring to use a coloured ‘slip’ of watery clay rather than a heavy glaze. She uses simple colour and oxides so that regardless of the theme, be it a shell, or a bowl or a noble Guardian there is a tonal unity to all her work.
Without a doubt her work is that rare thing, artful and unusual without being over wrought or too serious; crucially affordable and beyond fashion; and worth treasuring forever.
Charlotte Cadzow’s work is available at:
Charlotte Cadzow website: www.charlottecadzow.co.uk (prices from £15 -1,000)
The Renaissance Club, Archerfield, East Lothian.
Edinburgh Preserves: www.edinburgh-preserves.com
‘Art in the Garden’ at New Hopetoun Gardens, Edinburgh opens on 28th June.
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