About Alison Holmans
I am inspired by nature: Earth, Fire and Water, the basic elements
for the creation of ceramics.
Firstly, with my Raku work, I use local clay, cleaning out any stones and organic matter, and then working it into a malleable mass that forms in my hands and comes alive in fire.
Secondly, with my wheel, I use stoneware clay with the wheel turning and allowing me to work all around the piece at once, harnessing centrifugal force to create tall, wide and practical shapes.
Thirdly, the nature of clay allows me to manipulate it into recognisable forms or pleasing shapes and patterns that produce pieces that are practical, aesthetic and tactile. Glazing the piece adds colour, texture and contrast.
Whilst I enjoy making, I also know my work will go on to live another life and may even evolve again.
The aesthetic is as important as its function.
I was I awakened to pottery when I first went to Palmerston North Teachers College in New Zealand.
The Pottery Department was led by the renowned New Zealand potter Stan Jenkins. Since my
retirement several years ago, I have had the time to try out many of my stored-up ideas that were
put on hold for 45 years!
My studio is in the back garden in The Chicken Run, where I produce an eclectic mix of wheel-thrown and hand-built work. The chooks take a keen interest in everything that is going on, eagerly wandering into the studio and reluctantly leaving as they are shooed out. They are often subjects of my pottery.
I work predominantly with stoneware clay, as it is strong and will take the heat of the oven and any weather conditions outside. I love throwing open forms, such as bowls, that allow me to experiment with glazes and produce beautiful results. I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring hand-built bowls made of coils, dots and the imprint of leaves, producing work that is functional and aesthetic. However, quirky ideas come to me and, sometimes, I deviate from the norm, with items such as bowls with expressive lips, jugs with ‘Hand’-les or in the way I interpret animals.
I love following my imagination with hand-built work, such as garden features like wind chimes, animals balanced on stones and bird baths.
My birdbaths are made with coils that allow you to see and feel the texture, and feature common garden birds on the edge. These take some time to produce, so each develops uniquely. The glaze used, along with glass, are the final touches that bring the work to life.
I also make quirky animals that often feature in my thrown and hand-built work. These come alive and pose for me as I make them, so each is unique. Raku adds even more life to animals and birds because of the sheer nature of the natural blackening, crackling and lustre of the glazing. Hares are my favourite, and I have been commissioned to produce a hare jazz band, hiker hares with knapsacks and doctor hares with stethoscopes! Taking commissions and personalising pieces is part of the fun.
In 2020, I returned from a three-month trip to New Zealand and the Solomon Islands straight into pandemic lockdown. For me, this was an opportunity to work in my studio and to try out some ideas I formed during my travels. It also gave me time to create a non-profit Art Window Gallery for local artists to display their work in Eynsham. I also promote the art through daily blogs on Instagram (www.Instagram.com/eynshamartwindow) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/Eynshamartwindow). The artists receive all the outcome of sales and publicity. During Covid times, the Art Window Gallery has been a safe way for people to enjoy art, as well as to discover hidden skills and talent in the local area.
The Eynsham Art Window will be devoted to Oxfordshire Artweeks artists during May 2022.