Meet Me at the Museum: Lisa’s First Pot
Meet Me at the Museum: Meet some of the people who work at Gladstone Pottery Museum through their personal stories and experiences.
Our latest blog was written by Lisa who runs our Toddler Thursday sessions and clay holiday activities.
I still remember making my first pot. I was about four years old at infant school. It was a pinch pot, decorated with impressed circles, triangles and squares and painted fluorescent orange, with neon pink and yellow shapes – it was the eighties. (I know, I don’t look old enough!) I still have it too; it has stood the test of time. It must have been well made.
Fast-forward twenty years…OK, OK, nearly forty, I am still making pinch pots but this time on the other side of the process, teaching other mini, budding potters to create their own clay masterpieces.
The time gap between the fluorescent orange blob and my museum life today was spent as a Womble – making good use of the things I could find, things that the everyday folks leave behind, pick up the pieces and make them into something new. I was always collecting interesting things and creating art, making mud pies and drawing Thundercats. I was always encouraged to be artistic, we didn’t have white carpets, however, in the early nineties, when computers were THE future, there was the fear that ‘you won’t get a job studying art’. I opted for Office Studies which was very useful – I learned about that blue carbon paper and how to write a cheque! (anyone under twenty – Google it!)
I did very well academically but my heart wasn’t fully in it after Sixth Form. I submitted artwork to college and got a place on an Art and Design Diploma course. It was life-changing. I loved it. I got to do everything I enjoyed, ceramics, textiles, printmaking, photography, design, art history. I specialised in Ceramics and went on to do my degree at Wolverhampton University. The course involved a field trip to…Gladstone Pottery Museum and The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, where I now work across the two sites. The trip was on a Friday so I packed my bag and stayed for the weekend (a bonus free trip home).
I finished university in 1999 and started work in Stoke-on-Trent Museums in February 2001, so it is coming up to my 19 year work anniversary. I love my job! I get to encourage that spark of excitement when a small person touches clay for the first time and realises they can make a mess, it’s part of the fun, museums don’t have white carpets. My job involves delivering both school workshops and family activities and interacting with all ages. Parents and grandparents gain just as much from hands-on experiences, plus I gain as much as them through listening to their experiences. Many of them have worked or had family members who worked in the pottery industry and love to share their stories with you.
For me, it is incredibly rewarding when you get regular visitors coming back to see you and say ’We still have the clay toilet we made with you last summer’ Then I get to say ‘I still remember making my first pot…I still have it’.