For ceramicist Tanya Gomez, it was luck that led her to discover her great creative inspiration: the ocean.
After taking a job on a boat as a teenager, she found herself spending much of the next few years living on water. “It had such an emotional, physical, visual impact, that I still carry into my work now,” she says. She ultimately returned to the UK, and studied in Brighton and at the Royal College of Art, where she developed the skill to produce vessels in delicate porcelain – “the Mercedes of the clay world” – and honed her considered approach to colour, which she still finds hugely evocative: “My glazes are very much about the depth and the light that you get at sea.”
In a backyard studio at her home in Lewes, on the south-east coast of England, Tanya creates her pots – a process that cannot be rushed. “They’re a bit like kids – they need nurturing,” she says.
Before throwing the clay, she must knead or “wedge” it, to ensure that it has the same consistency throughout. Each vessel is then thrown in two pieces, which Tanya joins together, scraping and smoothing the form to create its untouched appearance.
Each piece can take over a month to fully dry; it is then carefully sanded, washed and glazed. Finally, Tanya puts the vessel into the kiln, where “an alchemy” takes place, she says: the porcelain and the glaze fuse together, and the final colour develops.
“I do like dual functionality. I don’t want them to be hidden in a cupboard, but to be out on display and used as sculptural pieces”Tanya Gomez