Following a search that saw applications from as far afield as the USA, Nigeria and the Netherlands, we’re pleased to announce Annabelle Smith as the winner of the third Leach Pottery apprentice funded by the Seasalt bursary! We caught up with Annabelle to find out a bit more about her, and how she’s feeling about starting her apprenticeship at the Leach Pottery.

How did you feel when you found out you’d been selected as the next apprentice?
When I received the call to say I had made it, I instantly felt relief – it’s my dream come true! Since I finished university I knew I wanted to be a production potter, and when I heard about the apprenticeship, I knew it would be the ideal start to my career. I applied as soon as the applications were open. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for me….I couldn’t ask for more.

Where are you from?
I have always lived in the south west of England, and in Cornwall for the last seven years.

How old are you?
I’m 23.

How did you find the interview process?
I had all summer to look forward to this so I was really nervous! My interview days had ups and downs, but I kept battling through. The Leach studio potters are really friendly and inclusive, so the relaxed atmosphere made the practical tests go relatively smoothly. Being at the start of my career you never really know if what you are doing is right, but that’s what makes it exciting because you are learning and discovering the whole time. 

This is an outstanding opportunity to learn with The Leach Pottery traditions, which have benefited so many potters working today

You had to bring something you’d made and were really proud of to the interview, what item did you bring with you to talk about and why?
I decided to bring a small faceted jar that I made earlier this year. I designed it having read Lucy Rie’s book on her personal work. I made the lid domed with a slight spiral to contrast with the straight lines of the facets. I used a black Tenmoku glaze that breaks into a milk chocolate colour on the edges. The inside is an ash green jewel-like colour, which brightens up the piece. I chose this because it was one of the most difficult pieces I have made so far, and it’s the kind of thing that I would like to make in the future.

How did you get into pottery?
The school I was at when I was 12 had a fantastic art, design and technology facility. After my first lesson in ceramics, I was in love! Later at university, I tried my hand at woodwork, photography, print-making and metalwork. They had a kiln but no wheel but eventually, in my third year a wheel arrived, and I’ve never looked back.

Being at the start of my career you never really know if what you are doing is right, but that’s what makes it exciting because you are learning and discovering the whole time. 

What appeals most about a career in pottery?
The process of designing and making beautiful but utilitarian domestic pieces for others to use sparks joy in me. I have always been practical and enjoyed working with my hands, so pottery is the perfect path for me, as it encompasses everything I love.

What are you most looking forward to at Leach?
I am looking forward to developing my practice as a professional, artist-maker in production throwing and design. This is an outstanding opportunity to learn with The Leach Pottery traditions, which have benefited so many potters working today. I cannot wait to be living in St Ives. I love the galleries, the colours of the sea and the live music nights every week.

Whose work are you inspired by?
Phil Rogers’ use of line is delicate and purposeful which pulls the overall piece together.
Clive Bowen, as his simple brushwork accentuates the design of the whole piece.
Svend Bayer throws feminine forms in a masculine way. They are majestic, strong and confident pots.
Antoni Gaudi. I love the way nature informs his designs and sometimes pairs that with playful, lighthearted, bright colours.

Find out all about the Seasalt Bursary and meet our previous Leach Pottery apprentices.

The bursary forms part of Seasalt’s pioneering, new campaign, The Modern Creatives Project, which encourages the idea of living a simple and creative life.