It can give a natural and expressive quality to the pieces, enabling you to really see that they’re handmade.
Peckham based Olivia Fiddes is a wondrous ceramicist whose work we love so much, we have collaborated on a mini capsule collection of homeware with her, launching this month
Olivia Fiddes understands that there is a lot to be learnt from a craft’s heritage, even if her own work is produced with a forward-thinking attitude. It is a true mark of talent to be able to stay true to tradition whilst reinterpreting it for the times we are living in and the lifestyles we are leading — a balance which her new ceramic collection strikes just right.
“I take a lot of inspiration from handmade craft and folk artwork throughout history. I try to incorporate some of that magic and intrigue into contemporary ceramics,” she tells us. Made using hand-building techniques, Olivia has always been drawn to the tactile experience of working with clay. “I used to play with a simple flour, water and salt dough at the kitchen table when I was little, so I guess making things like that has always triggered my imagination.”
There is a charming aesthetic that comes with hand-worked pieces, leaving no doubt that it has been made with deliberate action and technique, like pinching, coiling and slab building. “It can give a natural and expressive quality to the pieces, enabling you to really see that they’re handmade. I like that you can really sculpt and form it with your hands — that there is a functional as well as sculptural quality to it.”
On the day we visited Olivia in her Peckham studio, there was a distinct feeling of spring in the air which was palpable in her mood. “Fresh air and getting outside for a walk is a simple thing that always makes me feel good. Making things with my hands also helps me calm down an overactive mind.” And when on those walks, in true artistic fashion Olivia is perceptive to the creative unfolding of the season around her. “I love wisteria. I like that it has very graceful petals but can have quite gnarled, winding vines,” she reflects.
What is it about this southeast London neighbourhood that draws Olivia to base her studio there? “It’s always full of energy. Peckham Rye is great on a sunny day, there are ornamental gardens and a lake at the centre that I like to visit.” And with the days only getting lighter and longer, she is anticipating a summer of adventure. “To me April signifies moving into warmer and sunnier days, being outside more and excitement for summer. I’ll be making away in the studio but will hopefully take some trips out of London to the seaside as well.”