About Helen Beard
I'm a potter and illustrator. I work from my Islington studio where I make, draw, design and sometimes teach. I love the local area and find that it inspires much of my work. There are all sorts of characters who crop up again and again in my sketchbooks and on my pots, from swimmers in the parks to traders at the local markets. By grouping my pots together, I like to tell a story - creating whimsical scenes that capture the small yet precious moments that make up our daily lives.
I fell in love with clay whilst I was at the Edinburgh College of Art studying for a degree in Jewellery Design at the turn of the millennium. It was the immediacy of the clay, its ability to move and react to your every touch that, in the end resulted in my moving class. I specialised in surface patterns and researched and developed my own method of drawing and painting on to clay, using a form of relief print.
After college, I was fortunate enough to land an apprenticeship with the celebrated potter and writer Edmund de Waal in London. Edmund taught me a huge amount including throwing at the wheel, glazing, kiln firing and all the skills you need to run a ceramic studio. He also introduced me to porcelain - I'm still using the same clay today. Perhaps most importantly, Edmund showed me just how exciting a career in ceramics could be.
I set up my own studio 18 months later, initially to create 'Bespoke' porcelain pieces. These are individually thrown on the wheel then hand painted. The larger pieces can take days or even weeks to get right, as I aim to create works of art for galleries, museums, private clients and luxury retailers. Notable clients have included the National Gallery, the Museum of London and Fortnum and Mason.
Over time the question grew - could you make pieces as special which could be handled and enjoyed everyday - a 'Dailyware' range? And could you keep them handmade and exclusively designed and made in England? The answer is yes ... eventually! The production skills involved in a more commercial range proved quite different to those I'd developed over the years with the bespoke range. It's been a steep learning curve, but I've been fortunate to be able to work with some of the true experts in the field in Stoke-on-Trent, the traditional home of the UK ceramic industries.
The Dailyware pots are slip-cast in a Staffordshire porcelain from moulds of my wheel thrown forms. They are then bisque-fired, glazed and glaze-fired before being decorated with special lithographically printed ceramic decals of my artwork. A third and final firing melts the artwork into the glaze, so that it is tough enough for dishwashers, microwaves and everyday use.
The range launched at 'Maison et Objet' in Paris in 2016 and is now stocked in a growing number of boutiques and gallery shops across Europe. The aim was to create something to make the everyday special. Pieces to treasure and relish, pieces we'd want to own ourselves. We love the results, we hope you do too.