About me

Demonstrating at Heal's, London, 2016
I developed an interest in ceramics while I was reading history at Keele University, near the North Staffordshire Potteries, though the seeds had been sown earlier. When I was nine I was fascinated by an article in my father's encyclopedia "Pottery: For Use and Ornament". The historical survey went over my head, but the technical explanation interested me. I went out into the garden, smashed a flowerpot to dust, mixed it with water and wondered why I couldn't make it into clay again. This interest was further stimulated by a 6-minute film of The Potter's Wheel that the BBC put on (actually featuring a rather bad potter.)

After university I went on to train at the Rodmell Pottery with Judith Partridge. I wanted to make stoneware in the Leach tradition, but Judith introduced me to her style of calligraphic painting on the powdery, unfired surface of tin-glazed pottery (pictured). I was lucky: Judith paid me, whereas apprentices in some potteries worked for nothing. But family commitments forced me into less precarious and less creative occupations. I returned to pottery as soon as I could, taking a BA in Ceramics at Harrow, University of Westminster. I set up my studio in St Albans and exhibit throughout the UK. You can see more of my work and where it's on show on my website.

I'm one of the few ceramists in Britain using the difficult technique of tin glaze, whose opaque, white surface lends itself to my style of free brush decoration. Tin glaze reached its height in the Hispano-Moresque wares of medieval Spain, the maiolica of Renaissance Italy and 17th century Delft, but it was displaced by Josiah Wedgwood’s discovery of a practical white-firing clay. Craft potters revived it in the 20th century.

I like the challenge of wedding surface decoration to three dimensional form and re-inventing this ancient method to produce beautiful and useful ceramics for the modern home. My style is modern but I get inspiration from the ceramics I've seen in museums around the world.

My ceramics are handmade and decorated with free, gestural brush strokes painted on to the powdery, unfired glaze - like watercolour painting on very absorbent paper. It's a high-risk method because the decoration can’t be altered: if there's a mistake, the glaze has to be washed off and re-applied. It's challenging to create motifs that relate to the form and yet stand up in their own right. I draw my motifs as much from painting and textiles as from pottery.

Follow Marshall Colman's board Other influences on Pinterest.

There's a wide palette available to the modern potter but I restrict myself to a few colours. I prefer raw oxides, which can be applied in washes of varying intensity, rather than the brilliant but flat colours made for the pottery industry.

I use a lead borosilicate glaze over a pink terracotta body. The glaze has a wide firing range from 1060°C to 1120°C and I fire throughout the range according to the effect I want.

I'm researching the life and times of Dora Billington, the influential 20th century potter who, with her colleague Gilbert Harding-Green, taught many leading ceramists at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. She was at the centre of British studio pottery from the 1930s to the 1960s and, like Lucie Rie, represented a counter-current to the orthodoxy of the Leach school. She advocated a standard based on a wide range of European pottery and encouraged the use of tin glaze.

I was winner of the St Albans Museums Trust Prize in 2013 for ceramics shown at UH Galleries.