My first experience of pottery was watching my mum and brother make all sorts of wonderful clay ornaments during my childhood in the 1970s. It must have made a big impression on me to see all this work emerge magically from the kiln!
(My brother Stuart Hall , still hand-builds ceramics including birds and animals and runs his own antiques and pottery business- Weavers Cottage Pottery.) My mum's trusty old treadle pottery use is still put to good use to this day.
Pottery at secondary school consisted of a few sessions in basic hand building but I never took my interest in the subject any further. On leaving school I studied on the GAD course at Thurrock Tech between 1991 and 93, which was a complete revelation to me. I experienced a wide range of different media including ceramics.However initially I felt drawn towards painting and Theatre Design and channeled myself in this direction. I gained a place at Wimbledon School of Art but this didn't work out! Eventually I transferred onto the 3d design degree course at Middlesex, formerly Hornsea School of Art.- and instantly found my niche at long last. I could experiment with a range of materials including metal and glass, but ceramics finally ground me down!
That's not to say it was all plain sailing- I found the course at Middlesex quite challenging at times, with it's slant towards industrial slip cast ceramics. This did not put me well at ease with some of the industrial process ceramics tutors. who frankly took no interest in the hand builders. Till I found my voice on the course it was at times a bit of a hard slog. But I am nothing if not determined- and didn't let the criticism and lack of interest get to me. (Too much!)
However it certainly wasn't all bad- I felt very much at home at Middlesex.. I did tend to gravitate towards certain tutors- such as the celebrated potters- Emmanuel Cooper and Mo Jupp. I found Mo Jupp to be especially a great teacher and a superb maker. Emmanuel meanwhile taught me the basics of throwing and glaze mixing. He was a sympathetic tutor - yet did not mix his words. It was he that advised me to stick to hand building ceramics, as initially this was where my strengths lay. (I wonder though what he would make of my wheel thrown work today!) And of course thanks to the redoubtable technician Geoff ( Thankyou Geoff) - I discovered Raku firing. Pretty soon I was building my own kiln.
After leaving Middlesex I applied for the Royal College of Art Ceramics course in 1999, but was rejected after a fairly disastrous interview. Despite this setback, I kept my nerve and was lucky enough to have work bought by Selfridges and Co in 1999, and began selling my work around numerous galleries. I haven't really looked back ever since. This, accompanied by teaching and running courses has helped enable my career. I've shown work in galleries around the UK and sold to private collectors across the world- including the USA, Canada, India and Taiwan. I've also been lucky to have work acquired by museum collections too. In 2019 I won a gold award at the FAPDA UK JAPAN Art competition. In 2022 I was featured in Stephen Murfitt's new book on “Contemporary Raku” alongside some well known Potters including Tim Andrews, David Roberts and Patricia Shone.