Anna Smyth - Ceramics

About Anna Smyth

As a ceramicist, I enjoy making a range of items, functional and sculptural, but my preference is to use my work to express ideas which have been inspired by personal experiences or thoughts; the work becomes my own language for something meaningful to me.

I particularly enjoy using porcelain, a pure and sensitive material, and my work usually begins on the potter's wheel.

Current work is my response to the increasing interest in our once great Linen industry; hand thrown porcelain vessels and 'Mill' panels have been created as part of a series entitled 'I worked in the Mill'. Each bobbin shaped vessel represents a mill worker, whose decoration is a metaphor for their relationship to the mill, their work and each other.

The work has been born from stories and memories gathered from my family history, and celebrates the countless mill workers whose combined skills made Irish Linen so famous.

When did you start taking an interest in art?

My very first ceramics class was at an evening course here are Ulster University, in the Orpheus Building, in 1993. I so admired the degree students whose desks we sat! My interest in ceramics has continued steadily from there!

What course have you studied or currently studying?

My degree was BA Hons Contemporary Applied Arts and I specialised in Ceramics. Last year, as part of my residency in the ceramics studio at Ulster University, I studied to become an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, gaining valuable teaching experience in the process.

Who or what inspires your art?

I admire Edmund de Waal. His installations using thrown porcelain pots and his literature have been an inspiration to me. He loves to be fully engaged in the entire making process, right through to deciding how the pots should sit together. I totally relate to his work and approach.

What do you hope people take from your work?

I hope they will see skill and imagination. My aim is for the work to speak for itself and enhance the place where it sits.

Do you have any other interests?

I play a lovely Neo Irish folk harp which was made for me by my husband, and I enjoy passing on the playing technique to others. I also love being around most animals, their beauty and honesty are refreshing.

What is your favourite memory of your time at Ulster University?

I have so many! Here are a few: Being a new, very excited ceramics student in first year, blown away by the intensity of our amazing course and all the facilities! My Degree show - an exciting time, made extra special with the award from Ulster University/ First Trust Bank, commissioning me to design and make the trophy for the Distinguished Graduate-then meeting him at the presentation and seeing how well received it was. All of my year as artist in residence in the ceramics studio 2017/2018; developing my own work and working with the students were real privileges. The list goes on...

What is next for you creatively?

I am enjoying my first year as a self- employed ceramicist, feeling quite the grown up now that I am self-sufficient in my studio at home! Hapily, I have had the benefit of several exhibition opportunities following my residency, beginning with the New Designers exhibition, London in July, with a group of recent graduates from my course. Since then I have exhibited my Linen themed work at the Linen Biennale 2018 event and had two groups of work selected by RUA for their 2018 annual exhibition. I have just returned from an exhibition in Worcester, where I exhibited as one of 15 makers, selected from New Designers 2018. 2019 holds a few more exhibition opportunities already, so I plan to continue to make work which will hopefully attract the interest of an increasing audience.

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Anna Smyth - Ceramics

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