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The Great Pottery Throw Down

Kate Malone and Keith Brymer Jones

I have really been looking looking forward to this series. The producers had phoned me to ask questions about how long it takes to make, glaze and fire a pot, so I was pleased when they asked me to send some of my pots to feature on the show. I was not disappointed; my nesting bowls were shown in the first ten minutes of the first episode, alongside nesting sets by Billy Lloyd and Daniel Smith.



The format of the Throw Down is similar to The Great British Bake Off. Ten contestants are given technical challenges and one is sent home at the end of each week. The presenter is Sara Cox, who asks questions and shows us how difficult pottery is for the beginner. The judges are Keith Brymer Jones, a production thrower of tableware and singer in clever spoof music videos and Kate Malone, an artist potter who specialises in nature-inspired forms and crystal glazes. Keith sets the technical throwing challenges, while Kate comments on the decoration and design. Keith usually cries once a week when one of the contestants overcomes a particularly difficult challenge. Kate reminds me of art teachers at school, often saying she wants the pots to give her a message.

So far, the contestants have made a set of five nesting bowls, a coil-built wash basin and a set of five raku-fired vases.  There have been interesting glimpses of Burleigh transfer-patterned ware being made in Middleport Pottery, where the show was filmed. The programme shows how technically difficult pottery is and how many stages there are in making a pot. Because of the time constraints of the show, pots are often force-dried in the drying room and cracks usually develop. The technician, Rich Miller, has to carry all the pots to the kiln room, pack and fire the kiln. There are interesting snippets from Duncan Hooson of Morley College and Central St Martins Ceramics Design course and Alun Graves, curator of ceramics at the V&A.

I am looking forward to watching the rest of the series. Look out for my tea set in the final challenge.