Katy O'Neil

Katy was first introduced to working with clay by her very inspiring secondary school teacher who encouraged her to use all the facilities available in a very well stocked ceramics studio.

After A levels, she progressed first to an Art Foundation course and then on to BA(Hons) 3D Design (Glass with ceramics) at the University of Sunderland.

While she enjoyed working with glass as a material, Katy's heart was still firmly with clay and she wanted to learn and push herself more. So it was on to a Master of Art (Ceramics) course at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. This was a fantastic two years of truly getting to grips with the material and started Katy on a path that she would follow for many years to come.

Alongside making I started teaching in an FE college, a role that grew and grew over the years culminating in being promoted to Curriculum Leader for Art, Design and Media for 16-19 year olds. A few years ago I realised that as much as I loved teaching, I wanted to move from working in a college and get back to being creative, so I decided to take voluntary redundancy. Whilst I had the chance I went on a round the world adventure with my bloke for four months which proved to be one of the most exciting and inspiring things I have ever done. I used my photographs as a starting point for designing and making, and launched my ceramic business in November 2013.

Katy is based in Lancashire and in her studio she creates contemporary ceramic wrap pots, bowls and wall plaques alongside an extensive range of handcrafted ceramic jewellery.

The wrap pots are constructed using textured or chunky black clay before being decorated with slips. She uses mechanical objects to impress in to the clay to create the surface design, which is inspired by photographs taken whilst travelling extensively. Glazes are used to highlight the texture and mark making before firing to stoneware. Each unique piece is, for me, a celebration of form, material and mark making. They will happily hold water if required.

Katy's jewellery is individually handmade from finest smooth porcelain, black porcelain or black Vulcan clay. They are decorated with slips, impressed to create the surface design and glazed with splashes of colour and oxides to highlight the textures before being high fired for durability. The marks made on all of her work are created with man-made objects such as screws and nails found on the street, or from parts of circuit boards salvaged from abandoned electrical goods. This way of impressing marks into clay is a reflection of Katy's long-held fascination with the concept of future fossils and how the throw away nature of modern life affects the land.