18th October 2020 via Zoom
A demonstration by Graham Newing will start at 1pm, followed by the meeting at 2pm.
At the age of 15 Graham Newing embarked on a life of pottery. That was in 1957. He has been a potter for every one of the intervening 63 years. In an age of portmanteau careers this is really quite remarkable.
After completing art college, where the lecturers were more interested in playing shove halfpenny than teaching, Graham spent a year throwing at Denby Pottery. This isn’t diving in the deep end, this is the Mariana Trench. Try 1500 mugs a day or 2000 egg cups. After this Graham was ready and able to take on running and in fact turning around the fortunes of Guernsey Pottery.
The road to South Wales came via Wiltshire, specifically Longleat and the eccentric Marquis of Bath, who decided that he wanted to create an arts and crafts community and among the assembled artists, architects and so on was Graham. A year later he was the last man left standing, being the only one successfully supporting himself through his endeavours.
He became self employed in 1969, setting up the pottery in Westbury, Wiltshire. Graham was well able to take on big orders such as oil burners for Neals Yard remedies and others, at the rate of up to 2500 a week. You might think that this was gut-busting stuff but, with the help of a couple of employees, afternoons were still spent doing the garden.
Things have changed in the business of selling pots. Back in the ‘70s, Graham remembers that there was an arts and crafts shop on every corner, all desperate for stuff and they all paid up front. Those days are gone as we all know but, post lockdown, Graham’s pots are still flying out the door and galleries are begging for more.
Having moved to Pembrey in 2006 and at nearly 80 years old, making pots is not a necessity but I don’t think Graham is going to be quitting any time soon; as he says, ‘Work is not work when you love what you are doing’. 60 years spent making a good living out of doing what you love is certainly an inspiration.
The methods of getting work out there may have changed but people are still wanting to buy beautiful ceramics, whether domestic or gallery pieces, and there are still things in his head that are itching to be made. You may think that being a professional potter would indicate a somewhat isolated life, but for Graham pottery has been an immensely transferable skill enabling him to exercise a life-long interest in people. Over the years, he has spent much time working with people with both physical and mental health issues as well as prisoners. Making pots is obviously a skill that has served him incredibly well and since making that decision to be a potter at the tender age of 15, Graham has never looked back and is still enthused to get the clay on the wheel.
We are very happy that Graham has agreed to demonstrate for us at the AGM through the power of Zoom, where geography and transportation are as arduous as the walk from the kettle to the kitchen table. He will also be delighted to answer all your questions.