We are delighted to announce the arrival of Flora Olney into the gallery last week. Following the arrival of Flora’s work we have had such a positive response in the first week and I’m thrilled for Flora.
Flora Olney lives and works in her quaint studio in Great Bardfield Essex. She is proud to live in a village with such artistic heritage as Edward Bawden and Eric Ravillious. She comes from an artistic background: her grandmother went to the Slade School Of Fine Art and her Victorian Great Aunt Marianne North's botanical paintings are housed in a special gallery at Kew Gardens.
Flora's own passion from an early age was in ceramics in which she has a City & Guilds Diploma. Nothing brings her more pleasure than being creative with clay. She loves the endless possibilities of this wonderful medium and enjoys experimenting with new techniques.
She works mainly in porcelain; when fired, no other clay is as pure, clean and white. She likes to contrast this brilliant white with vibrant colours including deep blues & turquoise, and then highlighting each piece with real gold lustre. To produce such work is a labour of love. Taking a ball of clay through to each individually crafted piece takes time, as well as three firings. But Flora enjoys all aspects of the process, especially talking about her two kilns!
When Flora dropped off the lovely collection that we have available at Wonky Wheel, we also had a little Q&A session as well.
Q&A session with the Artist last week: -
Q. How long have you been an artist and how did your artistic career begin?
I don’t think of myself as a traditional artist as such - I feel much happier with the title ceramicist/printmaker. I actually started pottery classes when I was a child after school and really enjoyed making all sorts of fun things. I still have some of my very first work which makes me laugh! I never lost that passion for of all things ceramic so with my first real job, working in the Victoria and Albert Museum I always remember how much I loved loving to walk through their extensive ceramics galleries and marvelling at the amazing creations there. Following a move from London to North Essex I had the time to pursue my creative urges and I took up a Ceramics Diploma which was the most fun I’ve ever! Since then I have never looked back always excited to start work on new ideas and find new techniques.
Q.Why do you make art and what themes do you pursue?
I have always been creative and that probably comes from a mother and grandmother who is/was fanatically artistic and practical with their hands. I can’t imagine a world where I didn’t make things - even when I’m not doing my ceramics I will be doing something like crocheting etc. I always have so many ideas and sometimes they keep me awake at night - the thought is always “I wonder if I did this what it will look like”. This is why my work is always changing and most of it unique!
Q.What inspires you?
Q.Can you describe your first big break?
A. After my Ceramics Diploma I was unsure how to pursue a career in ceramics but by a complete accident we went out on a day trip and just before we left I picked up an old basket and put in some of my ceramic work. Whilst out, we came across a lovely looking gallery and I plucked up the courage to inquire for advice where I might sell my work. The lady was very encouraging and in fact said she would like to take my work and that was how I got my first break.
Q.What gives you joy?
A. Opening the kiln and seeing lots of brightly coloured shinny ceramics! Peeling off the linocut after the press and revealing a clean image. Just playing with clay.a Walking in nature and being by the sea. Being creative whatever I am doing
Q.How do you like to spend your time when you are not being an artist?
A. When I am not creating artwork, I will most likely be found in the garden weeding and tending to the pond! We have a little summer house in the garden and we love to sit and look out on to the garden watching the blackbirds/robins and other birds carrying on their busy lives. I also enjoy cooking and reading and salsa dancing!
Q.What is the best piece of advice that you have ever been given about your art?
A. I think the best bit advice I have learnt is to just have fun and be yourself! My art is very “playful” and that is certainly how I feel when I am in the creative zone!
Q. Is there anything else that you would like us to know?
A.I would love to think that my art brings a bit of joy to the world and makes people smile.