For the first time this year, I am amazed to be reaching for my sunglasses as I drive the coastal road from Edinburgh to the small town of Dirleton to meet Charlotte Cadzow at her home studio. It’s actually hot…in April….in Scotland! The three cherry blossoms signalling I should park up are in full bloom making the unusually blue sky and the cutesy cottage I am approaching, a painting in the making . I resist the temptation to lop a small branch or two off for my large vase that is sitting empty on my kitchen table ( love a cherry blossom!) and head towards the small gate. I am met by ‘Black Jack’ a massive barking black lab whose madly wagging tail gives him away.
Charlotte is making her way down the garden path to greet me. We chat in her kitchen for a while over a coffee and it turns out she studied at the same art school at the same time as I did! She was in the year below so we never met properly but she recognised me ( probably from my gatecrashing other departments like ceramics) and we know some of the same people -how funny!
I spot one of the pieces of work I have come to see, a giant ceramic clam shell sits casually on a chunky oak dining table in the kitchen. I love to see artworks embedded in everyday living spaces instead of being plonked on plinths or in glass cabinets in a no-touch zone. I am pleased to say she has children, three in fact ….so it is possible to have beautiful things in the house with young children about – you read it here first! My sister whose house is full of lovely but breakable things says you have to teach kids how to touch instead of not to touch them otherwise its no fun for anyone and she has successfully tested this theory on her two little home grown ‘guinea pigs’! So back to the shell piece, it was inspired by a giant clam that Charlotte’s grandfather brought back from a faraway trip when she was young which now sits majestically in a prime spot in her garden. I think the grand scale of the ceramic one would make it an intriguing piece placed in just about any room in the house. Much of Charlotte’s work has a quietly whimsical, grown up fairytale feel about it. We take a tour of the house where her hand-stamped tiles provide texture and detail in her bathroom and wouldn’t look out of place in an Indian temple. Other tiles make quirky details on a large open fire surround and I have my eye on some rustic square dwarf planters with feet that would look great with lush green foliage plants.
All artists yearn for a studio in the garden -its so convenient for popping inside for meals (nothing at all to do with inspiration). Charlotte’s makes me think of an atelier in rural Provence, snuggled into a corner of the garden and encompassed by wild plants and herbs with a large window that swings open like the top half of a stable door. Charlotte’s training took her as far as New Zealand and Japan where she studied under the Japanese potter Ryoji Koie. Her influences come from her travels abroad and the East Lothian coastline she lives near. She uses porcelain and stoneware clay- the latter sometimes with grit and sand in it to make it stronger for handbuilding. She has explored ancient ‘Raku’ techniques which involve putting pre-fired ceramic work back into a hot kiln for a short glaze firing and then plunging them into a straw filled pit to smoke away gently which creates exciting, unpredictable marks and colours.
Inside the studio, there are a couple of potter’s throwing wheels and shelves filled with past work as well as work in progress; large shell forms, delicate little ring dishes, round platters with tiny bird details, boat shaped vases with figureheads and wings, gorgeous metallic bronze trays with small bird handles and one or two sculptural pieces that would create an air of mystique in any garden.
She is planning to develop some of these pieces further as interior products and I hope to make some of them available here at Curious Egg in the very near future.
Thanks Charlotte for taking time to talk to me and for letting me nosey around your studio !