Avril Cairncross

Avril lives in rural Lancashire where she creates her beautiful raku ceramics vessels in her garden studio. 

The pots are mostly thrown with a porcelain body, modified to withstand the thermal shock of the raku firing, and decorated with a technique known as ‘naked raku’, so-called because a resist slip is applied to the burnished biscuit-fired surface before glazing.  After firing and reducing in sawdust the hardened glaze cracks away like slender pieces of eggshell, leaving behind a silky white surface with smokey veins and dots.  Each firing is different, and every pot unique.

Sometimes the surface patterns are disappointing, heavy, unbalanced.  So they go in the bin or are re-glazed and fired again.  But then at other times you wash off the powdery surface of the still-warm pot and something meltingly beautiful appears, as a gift.  That’s what I love.  It’s the result of a partnership between the clay, the fire, the smoke, the conditions on the day and the potter getting out of the way.

The sources of inspiration are meditation and the practical study of philosophy; finding in the ordinary activities of life the connection which the wise have spoken about through the ages, the power of presence.

I sell the pots I’m happy with so that I can make more and continue to refine the observation, the care, the balancing of fire and smoke and timing.

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