Maker Profile – making it 2015-17: Malcolm Murchison

Maker Profile – making it 2015-17: Malcolm Murchison

As Craft NI's making it Programmme comes to a close, and ahead of the Maiden Voyage exhibition celebrating the programme, we talk to some of the makers who've been involved. Next up, Malcolm Murchison guides us through his process, background, and more.

Hi Malcolm! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get into making?

My name is Malcolm Murchison and I live within sight and sound of the sea on the North Coast of Ireland. I have always been a maker, even before I studied 3D design and Ceramics at the Belfast College of Art in the 1970s. I graduated in 1980 and shortly after pursued a long career in creative education and arts management. One of my notable achievements was to drive, fundraise and project manage the £2.2M award-winning development of Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart. Over the years I exhibited work from time to time and was fortunate to receive several RDS craft awards. Two years ago I took a decision to give up arts management and pursue my passion for creative making full time.

Can you tell us a bit about your making process and how the making it programme has helped?

I make pottery, most of which is thrown on the wheel. I enjoy making unusual pieces of work such as flying saucer shaped teapots with handles of drift wood collected from the beach. While these teapots will work they lean more to the decorative than everyday use. I also make fully functional bowls and drinking vessels but I like them to have qualities that set them distinctly apart from factory ware. I work with a range of clays including a heavily textured porcelain that I mix myself. The glazes I use range in colour but I have a particular fondness for blues that speak of the ocean and sit against the sandy texture of the porcelain white clay.

The making it programme has given me a terrific ‘leg-up’ in the challenging craft business sector. It has validated my work, provided business expertise, opened the door to studio best creative practice through the placement with Ulster University and given access to essential funding from ACNI and Invest NI.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am delighted to now have more time to spend with my wife and two teenage sons on the beautiful North Coast of this Island. When ocean conditions permit, I love to get out in small boats, to enjoy exploring, fishing and getting home safely! I have channelled a lot of my creativity into cooking for the family, never cooking two meals the same or following a recipe and I assume an absence of complaint is a positive sign. Cuisine may now suffer as the balance is redressed in favour of pottery! Swimming in my local pool and running on the beach clear my head while enjoying live music and art galleries as a punter rather than a promoter spark creative ideas. Personal development and mindfulness are now essential components of my life and all of this enhances my creativity and wellbeing.

Where can people currently see or buy your work?

My work is on sale in local craft retail venues in Coleraine and Bushmills. I really enjoy putting work into exhibitions in professional galleries from time to time. Setting up stall with Naturally North Coast and Glens' markets has been great fun and a brilliant way to engage with the public. I look forward to making appearances in the summer run of markets around the coast. Please keep an eye on my business Facebook page Malcolm Murchison Ceramics for updates on exhibitions and buying opportunities.

What are you looking forward to the most about the exhibition?

I am privileged to be exhibiting in the Belfast School of Art at the Ulster University with my fellow makers on making it!. I am excited to see all the other makers' beautiful works and typically I expect to dig out at least one surprise to myself! While it heralds the end of the making it adventure it feels much more like a new beginning, as the title ‘Maiden Voyage’, augurs.

Where would you like to see your business in a year's time? Do you have any big plans for 2017?

Despite being on a journey that supposedly is meticulously planned, the route delivers surprises and unexpected rewards on the way. I am thinking of pursuing opportunities for creative residencies where I can give something back while exploring new ideas. Returning to delivering specialist workshops and offering undergraduate teaching has been an absolute pleasure which I would like to continue. I am also giving serious thought to the possibilities of a more ‘front facing’ making circumstance, where I can engage with public and customers while I make. It is all so much fun!

Find out more about 'Maiden Voyage', the 'making it' group's upcoming exhibition, which launches on 23 March in the University of Ulster, Belfast, here.

'making it' is supported by Invest NI, as well as the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.