Export Profile – The British Craft Trade Fair 2016: Deirdre O'Callaghan

Export Profile – The British Craft Trade Fair 2016: Deirdre O'Callaghan
For the last of our maker interviews ahead of the 2016 British Craft Trade Fair, we speak to Deirdre O'Callaghan about her work, the processes behind it and her plans for the rest of the year. The 2016 BCTF is taking place this weekend, April 10-12, at Harrogate, Yorkshire.


Hi Deirdre. Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you get into making?

I began working with clay over 20 years ago. On completion of my degree in Ceramics and Glass I went on to study with the Crafts Council of Ireland on their Pottery Skills course. I continued my training by working with the potter Michael Kennedy as a production thrower for three years. At this stage I felt ready to set up on my own and established my small studio pottery DocPot in 2001.

Clay is a wonderful medium to work in. It is a very unassuming material, and with the diversity of making, finishing and firing techniques that one can employ, the possibilities are endless. Once you have gained a competent skills base you can imagine, design, create and finish a new idea quite quickly. You can work on any scale. Throwing is a wonderful skill to have, I liken it to drawing three-dimensionally with the clay, and you can inject great energy into a simple lump of clay when throwing it on a potter’s wheel.

Can you tell us a bit about your making process?

A lot of my work is hand thrown on the potter’s wheel. Surface decoration is created using coloured slips, paper and sprigs. I like to create quite intricate surface patterns which are influenced by many things, i.e. my friends, fashion, textiles, nature, folk art and religious art. I am also influenced by the pottery of established factories like Wedgewood and Beleek and the skills involved in the creations produced by these potteries over the years.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My hobbies include painting and drawing and I always take my sketch book with me on any road trips or holidays – I find it an excellent way of keeping a diary of my travels and a record of the birds I see, I am a bit of a birder. I love music especially live music and going to see bands and I wouldn’t miss my weekly visit to my local for the pub quiz.

Where would you like to see your business in a year's time? Do you have any big plans for 2016?

At this year’s BTCF I will be launching two new product designs to hopefully secure some retail and gallery outlets throughout the UK. I am very involved in the running and management of a collective retail shop in my home town of Derry called Number 19, where you can see my work or, of course, you can always pop into my studio which is situated in the heart of Derry’s city centre.

To find out more about Deirdre, and find details about where you can buy her work, click here.

To read more about the Craft NI Export Development Programme, click here.