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In The Studio With Kate Sellers, The Creative Behind Our Latest Favourite Ceramic Creations

Ahead of the launch of Kate Sellers’ pottery collection online at Whistles, we visited her in a studio in Kent to catch up on her creative process, how to seek inspiration and to preview her ceramics in person. Blending her love for Sicilian design with developed pottery skills, Kate creates small-batch handmade tableware using Staffordshire White stoneware clay and coloured slips. As she describes “I want to create something for unique gifts or enliven your own space.

Tell us about yourself… How did you get into ceramics?

I studied ceramics at school and college and decorative arts at Nottingham Trent. Later, I was working in visual merchandising and window displays, however, once I became a manager I felt I didn’t have the space to be as creative. My friends bought me a taster session at the Kiln Rooms for my birthday and that’s what kickstarted things. I loved it and I had a great teacher who let me go to her studio and sit on her wheel and I just kept playing. When lockdown hit my teacher lent me a wheel and I set it up in my Mum’s garden shed and I started to make things every day. I just carried on until I saw myself improving. I’d gone freelance at this stage as a prop and set stylist but because I wasn’t working I had the space to post on Instagram. This is what springboarded it into a business, yet it all started as a more creative outlet for relaxation and my wellbeing.

I like that people’s response to my work is joyful. I wanted to create something that lifts you day to day.

Describe your work in a few words? What’s the aesthetic?

I like that people’s response to my work is joyful. I wanted to create something that lifts you day to day. My tableware is massively influenced by Sicily because I met one of my best friends at university and she’s half Sicilian. I’ve been going to stay with her in Sicily for years now. Sicily is really famous for its ceramics and children are taught ceramics as part of their education at school. We tend to travel around Sicily quite a lot together and each village has a different sort of aesthetic. I’ve named my pieces with Sicilian names. I love that Sicilian pottery is quite traditional but in some areas it’s more artistic and freehand. I wanted my ceramics to be tableware but pieces you could also use as art. They’re designed to be held onto for a lifetime.

How do you feel when you’re creating? What’s it brought to your life?

It makes me feel more present. Life can feel so busy and fast, yet pottery and creating allows me to slow down. I’m way more present and in the moment when I’m making new pieces.

How do you source inspiration? And has this changed over time?

I’ve always looked for inspiration and everything. I suppose I’ve always been in the creative industry so that’s something that’s been quite natural. I gain inspiration from nature, travel, magazines, Instagram and so on. I love to use colour in my work so I’m often inspired by new or unique colour combinations. And as I say, Italy is a huge inspiration for me, especially as I go for two weeks every August. It’s where I go to switch off and I’m much more susceptible to being inspired during that time.

I love to use colour in my work so I’m often inspired by new or unique colour combinations.

Who else do you admire in the creative space?

There’s so many. I am inspired by Picasso, which is quite obvious in my work. I also love Barbara Hepworth.

Talk to us about your collaboration with Whistles, are there any favourite pieces?

I think the Sciacca range because it’s very simple but it is also cheeky and playful. I love the tone of green too as for Whistles I’ve kept it quite solid, whereas I normally mute it down. These sit so nicely with the blue too if you were to buy more from the range.

Advice to anyone looking for a career change or starting a creative business?

I think my main advice would be do something you love doing. Don’t push yourself to do something because you think it will do well, because you can end up having to make so much. Make sure you’re true to yourself and produce things that you love.

The Sciacca range is my favourite because it’s very simple but it is also cheeky and playful.

What do you like to do on days off?

Mainly go to the sea as I love swimming. My friends call me coastal Kate. I normally go to the Kent coast so Rye, Camber Sands, Hastings and Deal. I don’t get the chance to do it daily but I go when I can and I’ve always loved the water, ever since I was a kid. It makes you feel alive and it’s so good for your skin.

I love swimming. It makes you feel alive and it’s so good for your skin.

I’m focused on working towards having my own studio space and I’ve also got a collaboration coming up with Lamp / LDN which I’m really excited about.

Photographer: Kasia Bobula
Words: Helena Stocks

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