There is just something different in the texture of a handmade object. The way the curves and lines feel, the slight differences between each one. The idiosyncrasies you just don’t get with machine-made things. Not that the ceramics made by Edmund Davies would ever feel imperfect. They’ve just got some of that handmade magic.
Edmund (or Ned, as we call him), is a studio potter who crafts wheel-thrown pieces made from British clay in his Norwich studio, Helgate Pottery. Having begun working with clay through a membership at Turning Earth in Hoxton, he spent a number of years in his own ceramic studios in East London. We have worked closely with Ned on the design of two of our small batch objects: the pestle & mortar and two candle holders, which have just been launched.
Ned spoke to us about his journey with clay and ceramics, working with British clay and the vintage ordinary object in his kitchen that has a special significance.
How did you first get into ceramics and making with clay?
I did an evening class as a teenager, sitting on the wheel surrounded by fabulous gossiping pensioners, but stopped after a while, until after university slightly at a loss I took up the class again to find most of them still gossiping
Why is crafting your work from British clay particularly important to you?
Frankly it’s not especially, but it’s a practicality, it’s not particularly common to ship clay bodies internationally, their weight makes it uneconomical generally. I do like foraging for materials on occasion, and I am constantly blending combinations of clays I buy for different fired effects, but I’m not a terribly ‘terroir’ potter.
You have a background in architecture – how does that inform your work?
Well it’s the same thing really, just at a different scale, it’s design that relates to function and the body, marrying the technical and the artistic. Only with pottery you are the builder and the site foreman too.
Your pieces are definitely quite functional – creating beautiful objects and vessels for drinking, cooking and eating out of – did you always want to go into this more homeware style of work? Or is there a sculptural element that you like to tap into?
I love function, when I’ve forayed into sculptural pieces I’m always struck by fired stonewares immutability, it’s a bit terrifying to make some sort of artistic statement that will keep on existing, taking up space in the world, until it’s ground to dust by geological forces in the far distant future. With a plate it already knows what it is I just have to decide what it’s going to look like.
Can you tell us a bit about the materials and design of the pestle and mortar we’ve just launched?
The main thing I was thinking about when making that pestle and mortar is I wanted it to feel almost monolithic, but in miniature. A lot of my ceramics strive for a thin walled controlled elegance of sorts, but keeping that control, emphasising the solidity makes for a deeply satisfying object I hope.
What’s your kitchen like at home? How often do you use it?
Our kitchen is half finished, I was tasked by my partner to make us terracotta counter tiles, but have been scrupulously avoiding it, although someone did compliment our plywood countertop thinking it was intentional the other day.
How do you like to host, and what would you be cooking for a dinner party?
I love to host and I love to cook, although only if I’m in a mad rush, overstretching my abilities with a glass of wine in hand. Normally it’ll involve a spatchcocked chicken.
What are the ceramics and homeware pieces that you can’t live without/use on a daily basis?
I have a strict morning ritual of cafetiere coffee in bed served in a mug from my collection (this morning a new mug of mine testing a lustrous new dark brown glaze that looks like a tube station tile) , with toast served on a Oaxacan burnished terracotta plate I bought in Mexico a few years back.
Can you tell us about an ordinary object in the kitchen that has a special significance or story?
I’m weirdly attached to my vintage Moulinex salad spinner. My mum and grandma both had them from the 70s but they both got rid of theirs in the noughties. I have such vivid memories of being tasked with using one as a small child and I recently bought one off eBay; it’s so strange to be able to rebuy these kinds of quotidian family heirlooms of the mass produced age.
What's your favourite Monoware piece?
That wide serving platter
What’s a dish that reminds you of home?
Basic 90s style roast veg
Your favourite cuisine?
To cook, Anglo Italian; to eat out probably Indian
Best song/album for a dinner party?
Galaxie 500: On Fire
Portrait of Ned by Sophie Davidson