Nicola Gillis lives in Brighton and works from her garden studio. Her tableware invites you to be mindful of each of the daily eating and drinking rituals by focusing on the vessels that we use, what we see, what we share, what we hold and touch. Understanding the value of handmade pieces from which to eat and drink, her pieces have been described as earthy, warm and tactile. Nicola takes inspiration from the Japanese use of tableware, a specific purpose for each vessel and where pleasure is drawn from individuality. Although there are commonalities, she does not seek to replicate exact size or marks and embraces imperfection. Ever changing views, shadows and light on daily walks throughout the seasons and the beauty found in degraded
surfaces and patina also inform her work.
Nicola has developed her interest in ceramics over the past 8 years, beginning with part-time classes in 2014, accepted onto the full-time Ceramic Development course at Forest Row School of Ceramics in 2019, and beginning to sell her work in June 2020. Initially using the wheel, Nicola developed her practice to include hand-building with slabs, carving (Kurinuki) and coils, all of which she finds to be a slower, more thoughtful approach to making . Since the end of 2020 Nicola has been regularly showing her work locally at Artwave Lewes and Brighton Open House events. She has been recognised by major retailer Toast, who has
begun to stock her work, as well as galleries at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Atelier in Brighton and Ceramic Review on Instagram, where she has also built a significant following posting regularly her musings and thoughts on making and becoming a studio potter. Buyers of her work are returning time and again to add to their collection. Nicola has been commissioned to create four sets of serving dishes for Michelin Guide restaurant The Set in 2020 and 2021. In January 2021 Nicola was featured in Country Living Modern Rustic bookazine feature Objects of Desire, and her work is featured in Living etc magazine in April 2022. In July 2021 she exhibited her work at the Colours of the Earth exhibition at Exeter Tea Merchants – The House of Hope and Mercy. She has been asked back in 2022.
My work is predominantly tableware. Using a warm, stoneware clay body I consider first what
I would like to use in my home. Then, what process I will use to make it: slab, coil, carve or
wheel thrown. I draw upon my research into the behaviour of local raw materials, particularly
found clay and wood ash, for use in slips, glazes and within the clay body itself. I want each
piece to look and feel comforting and connected, enhancing each day’s rituals. I take inspiration from the Japanese use of tableware, a specific purpose for each vessel and
where pleasure is drawn from individuality. Although there are commonalities, I do not seek to
replicate exact size or marks and embrace imperfection. My work has been described as ‘a
group of individuals that have enough in common to enjoy each other, yet stand alone’. Ever changing views, shadows and light on daily walks as well as everyday objects, degraded
surfaces and patina also inform my work. This translates into the use of each piece as a
ceramic canvas on which to make marks using found objects, oxides and a truthful process. I
feel this gives each piece not only a unique appearance, with its own story to tell, but a unique
feel, allowing the user to touch and ponder each mark. These considerations lead me to work that is functional, tactile and human. They have weight, a softness and a voice.