Maggie Longstaff

When I was a child two influences helped to shape the person I am to-day. The first was my father, a primary school headmaster, who had a hut in the garden where he made furniture. The second was my school. At eleven years of age the first art lesson began with the girls being told to stand in a row and hold out our hands for inspection. Myself, reluctantly, along with others were sent to the dingy basement to work with clay. No explanation was given. For three years I hand built pots and made sculptures. With my strong broad hands I wedged clay. I must have enjoyed the experience.

In later life you often return to the pleasures of childhood. Through further education I enrolled in pottery classes. Finding that I could easily centre a lump of clay, I learned to throw and I was hooked.

All images copyright of the artist © Maggie Longstaff

We bought a cottage in Roslin Glen that had an old laundry room with a stone floor and large sinks. There I set up a pottery and joined the Scottish Potters Association (SPA). Twice I was their secretary. I visited other workshops and watched potters throw on the wheel. But you need long stretches of time to throw and then turn pots and by this time I had a husband, a full time science job and two children. My solution was to make tile pictures which could be done in smaller periods of snatched time.

First of all I made a drawing then placed it onto a slab of leather hard clay, transferring the image by retracing it. The clay picture that emerged through indentation was cut up into small tile pieces in sympathy with the design. After bisque and glaze firings the tiles were reassembled, glued to a board and framed. The use of coloured groutes that harmonise with the glazes unifies the whole image.

I have sold pictures at exhibitions organized by the SPA, at Potfest in Penrith and Scone, at the Smith Gallery in Stirling and through private commissions. Now that I have all the time in the world I have started to throw again in a new studio in Broomieknowe. Colour is extremely important. The excitement of the kiln is reward indeed.