All fired up

20220319_161835Julia teaching in her garden studio

Pottery is the perfect way to combat the stresses of modern life, says Julia Dreher, who is excited to be launching her Wanstead Pottery business from her new garden studio during next month’s Fringe

It was whilst studying art and design during a foundation course that I first encountered clay, and it was a meeting that would shape my future, albeit via a rather convoluted route.

Following the foundation course, I specialised in ceramics at Falmouth School of Art, a stunning part of the country to be based. From there, and having moved to London, a chance opportunity secured me my first job, as a leather goods designer. And so began a career that spanned 25 years, took me all around the world many times, and allowed me the privilege of working with some of the most recognised British retailers and designer brands.

My career as a design manager ended abruptly, however, when, following a cancer diagnosis in 2017, I was made redundant. My health and recovery were, of course, my main focus during this phase, but it was around this time that a friend suggested we sign up for a pottery course. I’d dabbled with clay during the intervening years, but my career had been relentless and never afforded me the time to pursue ceramics, even as a hobby. 

The chemotherapy treatment had not long ended and I felt that working with clay again would be the positive distraction I needed. I was not wrong. I can only describe the sensation I encountered on entering the pottery class on our first day as a kind of epiphany. I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging and a realisation that I had ‘come home’. It was quite surreal and that experience marked a fundamental turning point in my life. Following the diagnosis and redundancy, my future had been very uncertain, but in that moment, I knew what I had to do.

It has taken quite some years to get to this point. My recovery has been slow, but the studio is now complete and I am very much looking forward to welcoming students, young and old, to join me in a calm and inviting space to explore the marvellous medium of clay.

Pottery is an ideal antidote to our frenetic modern lives. You simply cannot rush clay. You must be present and focused. It’s the perfect way to disconnect from the world and lose yourself in the mindful nature of the craft.

I have a fully equipped garden studio and will be teaching various hand-building techniques and how to throw on the potter’s wheel. The classes will be small and I am very excited to be launching the business as part of the Wanstead Fringe in September. If you are interested in experimenting with form, texture and decorative techniques to create something you will cherish, please do join me.

For more information on Wanstead Pottery, visit www.facebook.com/Wanstead-Pottery-109328661834617

For more information on Julia’s Wanstead Fringe classes, visit wansteadfringe.org