Meet Claire Sherston

Meet Claire Sherston

With a background in textiles and pattern design, artist Claire Sherston is best known for her beautiful, hand-painted ceramics, which are full of character and life. After moulding the clay by hand into a range of different sized vessels, Claire meticulously paints each one individually, using her own unique pattern designs and colour schemes. We were lucky enough to spend an afternoon at her bustling studio space in London, learning more about her creative process and unique use of pattern in ceramics.


It was such a joy to immerse ourselves in your creative world, thank you for having us! How long have you been working with ceramics and where did the passion come from?

Thank you for stopping by! I started working with ceramics in 2018, it began as a relaxing hobby that I could indulge in after work - at the time I was working full-time in fashion and marketing, there was a lovely college across the road from my office that ran after work classes. During the pandemic I started to take ceramics a bit more seriously, developing a love for slowly painting my designs onto them. In 2021 I joined the magical space that is Rochester Square ceramics studio where I feel very lucky to still be, and in 2022 I quit my job to pursue it full-time.

What gave you the confidence to take the leap and make your passion a full-time career?

It was something I'd been considering for a long time, it took me a good few years to build up the courage to do it! I think when you take a leap like that, you need a bit of blind faith and to believe things will work out in the end. I've found many times that opportunities happen when you create space for them to. I find those strange crossroads in life are where I grow the most - the parts of life where you have to fully trust your gut and go for it. Even if things don't work out as you expect, you'll often end up where you need to be.

Can you tell us a little more about your background in printed textiles and how this informs your work to date?

I studied printed textiles at Leeds Arts University, after graduating I set up my own business selling my printed designs as silk scarves and small bags, I thought I'd be a pattern designer to be honest! I've always loved pattern and colour and creating my own styles to adorn the house or clothing with - I get that same excitement when I see a ceramic I've designed in a house setting. I guess it's that feeling of creating something to be used and loved and looked at. Creating something that adds difference and intrigue and a hint of strangeness to a space. My ceramics are all about the patterns adorning the vessels, I love taking the time to squelch and build the clay shape, but for me the pieces really come alive when I get my paintbrush and start adding colour and pattern. 

How would you describe your artistic style and where do you draw inspiration from?

I'd characterise my style as a melting pot - I navigate between embracing the natural, slow, organic aspects of clay while infusing vibrant zesty zings of colour and fun. My inspiration comes from everywhere, I love the ritual of dinner parties and the thought of where my pieces will end up being used. Mostly I'm inspired by the incredible show nature puts on for us every day - I currently live near the wetlands and marshes in East London and most days I go out walking and see a colour combination that captivates me. I've always been fascinated by folklore, folk art and ancient rituals: I'll often romanticise little rituals in my head and imagine that's what my pots will end up being used for. My mum also grew up in Africa, so I feel lucky to have been raised to be aware of different cultures and their intricate patterns and art from a young age.

We’d love to know more about creating a ceramics piece from scratch. Can you talk us through the process from beginning to end?

Of course! It depends on the vessel I'm creating, I've been working on some vases recently that really take on a life of their own when building them. I think I work quite playfully and sculpturally: starting with a lump of wedged clay I'll mark the opening of the vessel, pressing in and out to build a rough outline of the shape I want to create. Then I build on it with long coils of clay and slip. Once leather hard I'll often carve away chunks of it too - it's almost as though the shape reveals itself to me as I go. When creating more conventional shapes like bowls or platters, I'll begin with a smooth slab of rolled out clay and use moulds to initially define the shape, then once part-dry I'll go in and carve or add texture to the vessel before painting them. I love for them all to show signs of the maker.


What can we expect to see in any upcoming collections?

I've been very inspired by rituals, solstices, equinoxes and the sun recently so expect big influences of that coming up soon!

What has been the biggest highlight of running your own business?

I think the pride of managing to survive each month is something I always get a kick out of. And just the amazing opportunities that continue to pop up which I feel so grateful for, I never know what opportunity will be in my inbox each day. Every time I get a big commission come through or one of my favourite galleries reaches out to stock my work, I still have to pinch myself. Also having my first solo show 'The Ceremony of Ceramics' last year was very special.

Finally, what is your favourite Pink City Prints piece and why?

The new collection is all gorgeous so it's very hard to choose, but I'd have to go for the Folk Noir Annie blouse and skirt - the hand embroidery detail is so beautiful and I feel very lucky I now get to rep them all summer long - thank you!


Follow Claire on Instagram:  @clairesherston

Letters from the Pink City

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