Export Profile – The British Craft Trade Fair 2016: Trevor Woods (Mount Ida Pottery)
Hi, Trevor. Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you get into making?
I have been working as a full time ceramic artist for the past three years but you could say I have been in training for 30 years. I worked in a part time capacity creating and selling to retail over that time. Three years ago I retired from full time teaching and built a new teaching studio that is part of our home. The studio space is a beautiful place in which to work as I have the most delightful views over the County Down landscape, it’s a peaceful and serene place to develop my ceramic projects. It is situated just off the main A1 Belfast to Dublin Road. Its location is indicated by lovely brown directional signs.
I originally trained as a teacher of Art and Design but developed my skills both at home in my original studio and by working with the students in school. Since retirement from teaching I have much more time to be creative and to develop new ideas. The sea and the seashore inspire my current projects and I love the colours, shapes and forms that have come out in my work. The past three years have been wonderful in terms of my creative development. Having that time to think and create is just great.
Could you tell us a bit about your making process?
Having worked with students to try to help them achieve interesting and exciting outcomes I found that I was also learning new skills and techniques. I was learning to work with new ceramic materials in different ways to create interesting pieces of work. I also live in a beautiful rural environment which is also were I grew up. So I know and love where I live and have also found it an inspirational environment.
My inspiration is drawn from a range of different sources – sometimes it is the rural countryside which is just outside my door and sometimes it is the work of other artists, designers and makers.
I work mostly in earthenware, which is decorative and highly coloured. Occasionally I use oxides to get a soft finish to the work, especially the work inspired by the sea.
When I am teaching in my studio I don’t mind sharing ideas and techniques as what comes out of the thoughts and hands of each of my students will be different. All I have done is inspire them to have a go. It is wonderful to now see so many of my former students working in creative environments. They too are trying to leave a mark on this society.
My days in the studio just seem to disappear some how! I start at about 6.30am (I like mornings and always have, they are the most productive part of my day). I usually have a plan in my head of what has to be made or done and I always have a deadline date in mind. I think this is the teacher in me, 36 years of training is hard to leave behind!!! Mostly I work until bedtime, as I would teach a number of evenings each week in the studio. The Internet is great as I can shop on line – what a time saver.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I don’t have many hobbies outside my studio. I work with young people who are involved with The Young Farmers Clubs, training them for a range of competitions which the organization runs such as Public Speaking, Debating and Presentation competitions. Having the FE McWilliam Gallery on my doorstep is also very handy if I need some quiet time to sit and contemplate over a nice cup of coffee. I just love being in the studio and working away until I have finished whatever I am doing.
Where can people currently see or buy your work?
My work is found all over Northern Ireland, in The FE McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge; Painted Earth, Newcastle; The Kingfisher Gallery, Killyleagh; The Wickerman, Belfast; Belfast Cathedral, Belfast; Down Cathedral, Downpatrick; Down Art Centre, Downpatrick; The Yard Gallery, Holywood; Ards Crafts, Newtownards; Walled City Crafters, Derry/Londonderry; The Causeway Centre, Bushmills; The Bushmills gallery, Bushmills; Cotswold Wollen Weavers, Cotswolds and The Denis Collins Gallery, Wexford.
Visitors are most welcome to call into the studio were there is a small retail space and visitors can view my work. You can also purchase and commission work as well. I also have the facility to take card payments.
Mount Ida Pottery has a 5 * rating from the Northern Ireland Tourist board as an activity centre. This is in relation to the courses that I organize and run. You can find the relevant information on my website.
Finally, where would you like to see your business in a year's time? Do you have any big plans for 2016?
My work is constantly evolving in lots of different directions. Sometimes I feel like the puck in a pinball machine and I ping of the obstacles on my way down to the flippers and the buttons are pressed and off I go again. My plans for 2016 are to refurbish the gallery space, visit some of the other larger exhibitions in London and go back to the Ceramic gallery in York.
Find out more about Trevor Woods (Mount Ida Pottery), as well as his work and details on where to buy it, on the Craft NI Directory.
To read more about the Craft NI Export Development Programme, click here.