Hannah Bould uses a freehand approach to create bold and playful designs within a distinctive theme.
I stumbled across a Hannah Bould bowl from her Contrast collection on my first visit to O’Dell’s. The combination of organic, abstract shapes painted onto the bowl’s surface and pared-back raw clay with glossy glaze immediately caught my attention. Hannah’s work is a wonderfully fresh, contemporary style yet exudes a timeless quality.
Undertaking further research into Hannah’s work I uncovered a fantastic collection of utilitarian ceramic crockery suitable for everyday use. Each piece displays playful, freehand patterns making them individual, yet their monochrome colour palette encourages interchangeability within the cohesive group. It’s a signature look which makes her work instantly recognisable.
Hannah has been on an interesting journey to developing her own ceramic range. Initially training as a printmaker, it was her sense of feeling lost artistically while working in a fine print studio which encouraged her to look in a new direction for a revitalising spark.
“I was looking for creative inspiration and enrolled in a weekly evening ceramics class offered by ceramicist Stuart Carey in the building I was working in. I soon discovered printmaking and ceramics have a lot of similarities, both being process led and technique driven.”
Looking at Hannah’s ceramics range and knowing she worked as a printmaker it comes as no surprise her design inspiration mainly comes from print. “I’ve always loved Picasso, Matisse, Bauhaus, Bryan Ingham, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore. My print ideas translate onto ceramics and there has been lots of experimentation from there. I can definitely see a distinct correlation between the two.”
“There is so much to experiment with in ceramics and the more you make, the more you realise there is to learn. Being able to compare my old pieces with my most recent, I can clearly see how I’ve improved and that is very satisfying.”
After attending evening classes for more than a year Hannah went to work for Stuart Carey. She also interned with Nicola Tassie. Karen Bunting loaned her wheel, which served Hannah very well in her first year of business. They each have influenced her.
“I prefer to work quickly and allow each ceramic form to dictate the type of motif I glaze. Each piece is made by hand and has a unique personality. I think this is evident in my work and representative of me as a maker. The final stage of opening up the kiln is always exciting. Seeing many days worth of work completely finished and as a fully functioning piece of crockery is one of the most pleasing parts of what I do. It’s lovely to think one of my mugs is part of someone’s morning routine or a plant pot is housing their favourite plant.”
An amazing knack for seeing the positive in what others could consider a setback has led to new opportunities. “My first order from Liberty was daunting and hugely exciting. I’d never made that amount of pots before. In the middle of making for that order my kiln broke. Although this was a nightmare and a setback it led me to buy a new, bigger kiln and the chance to expand my studio. The added pressure forced me to work faster and also allowed me to refocus.”
Hannah continues to work hard on her craft spending long, fruitful days in her London-based studio. “I find the process of continually refining my craft especially rewarding. I constantly have revelations quietly in my studio; small ‘aha’ moments in regard to process such as understanding a new technique or discovering an efficient way to do something. I’d love to make time for experimentation and some new challenges, with potentially some collaborations.”
Creating has taught her to be patient. “I am normally quite impatient and ceramics has taught me to not rush things and even to enjoy the wait.”
Main image: A selection of ceramics including mugs, bowls, and pinch pots. Clockwise from top left: Vase; Vase; Vase; Bowl; Bowl; Dish; Plant Pot; Plant Pot.
All images supplied © Hannah Bould.