Salt, Sea and Sky

WestcoteBellweb

BY Vaughan Smith and Jackie Cohen
WestcoteBellPottery.com

When we moved here four years ago, we were looking for a slower pace of life. It hasn’t worked out that way. We’re busier here than we were in New York. Our studio and showroom, Westcote Bell, is on the only road around the coastline, so there’s always a steady group of people coming by.

The people who live here all year long support us all year long, which is a big change from New York. Maybe because of the media people there were gloomy or angry all the time. Here people are happy. It’s a low-pressure life. People have a comfortable social structure, with healthcare mostly covered.

Now we can concentrate on our work. We have dedicated studio time, and continuity in what we’re doing. We can start something and follow through with it to the finish.

The great beauty of our natural environment was immediately inspirational. We introduced birds into the work as soon as we got here. The feeling of sky, sea, rocks and fog—it’s all so mysterious and evocative. Even though the winter was rough last year, it was just so pretty and hugely motivating.

The landscape and seascape come into the work in different ways. Sometimes it’s out and out putting boats into things, because they’re here and really lovely. But in other more subtle ways, the beach and stone come to be reflected in the shapes and colours we use. The glazes remind us of walking on the sand or the crystal blue of the ocean. There’s so much to work from visually. It’s so rich. The gardens, plant life and wildflowers are like nothing we’ve ever seen.

We’re technically trying to work out the glaze colours that we use. We make everything ourselves, including glazes, underglazes and slips. As soon as that’s resolved, expect to see a lot of flowers appear in our work.

Our building is off the gird. There’s no running water. We collect water in rain barrels. We reuse all our pottery wastewater. There’s definitely salt in the water that we’re learning how to work with. Every time we open a kiln it’s different and beautiful.

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