Virtual Pottery Workshops with Anthony Parfitt
It’s a while since I last met Anthony Parfitt and his lovely family and it is with much pleasure I hear that, despite the challenges of the times, he is still teaching pottery from his shed –
which he describes as having “one window that looks onto the main road to the beach at Freshwater East and catches the eye of passers-by, and backwater authentic studio hunters. The other window looks over the bay with almost 180-degree horizon of the Bristol Channel, both inspiring and distracting from work.”
He began his life as a potter in the 1980s while studying architecture. His postgrad studies at Goldsmiths College in ceramics brought him nearer to the life he now leads having returned to his childhood Pembrokeshire in the late 1990s.
He says: “My ceramic pieces are an eclectic mix of rustic, earthy tableware and sculptural pieces. The work is heavily inspired by the forms, textures and colours of the Pembrokeshire coastal environment.
“I make the pieces using a conglomeration of throwing, hand building and moulding technics, and the work is decorated with commercial and homemade-recipe glazes, local found slips, beach glass, sprigged and incised patterns, melding to produce visually rich and tactile surfaces.”
In a small studio in the times of covid, it must have been difficult to continue with his teaching work. I was curious to know how he has adapted, so when I heard that Anthony was running virtual workshops I had to know more.
How does one teach such a tactile craft online ?
“Although it was strange at first, the internet classes have worked out really well for students. Potters collect their materials from the studio in Freshwater East, and then work on their projects, using the weekly worksheets and YouTube demonstrations, and get feedback through the weekly Zoom tutorial.
“In the days after the Zoom session they deliver their work back to the studio for processing and collect any new materials for the next week’s project. There’s usually a bit of face-to-face chat (mask-to-mask) when dropping off/collecting from the studio.
“It’s been really good to see how the students have progressed through the internet format. Previous to the Zoom format they would have only worked on their pots once a week at my studio/classroom. Now, with their own improvised home studio space set up on their kitchen table or in a garden shed, they get to visit their work several times in the week and the projects really blossom quickly.”
Anthony added that the new students have been inspired to do pottery by the TV series The Great Pottery Throw Down. “Our Zoom classes could almost be called The Pembrokeshire Pottery Throw Down.“
The classes facilitate both beginners and intermediate potters with a weekly project, a shared learning experience and good virtual studio camaraderie.
Each week a class set project will explore the different making processes available to the potter (tile making, coiling, slab work, thumb/pinch pots, press/slip moulding etc). Illustrated worksheets and video demonstrations are sent to the student in advance of the class, and the weekly Zoom sessions will be used to answer any questions, demonstrate solutions and chat about options as the making proceeds.
Thursday evening classes start on the 30 September 2021: Suitable for beginners and experienced potters – £50 to £100 for 10 weeks of two-hour lessons (starts 7pm).
Contact Anthony to discuss and arrange enrolment:
Address: Brig y don, Trewent Hill, Freshwater East, SA715LJ