Stepping into Hollie Thornley’s studio down at Hotwalls in Old Portsmouth makes me want to spend the day there. It has an atmospheric quality to it that speaks to my soul.
Nice Pear Ceramics moved here in August 2022 but you would think it had sat at the Hotwalls for years. The ceramics created blend in well with the studio space. From the colours and texture of the clay dotted around to the walls of the arched studio, you get a sense of belonging and your eyes are drawn to Hollie’s personal collection of trinkets and love of the sea.
Talking about Ceramics
Talking about her big move to the South Coast from her hometown of Bolton, she said, “After studying ceramics at university, I relocated to the South Coast and now make all of my work from my studio at Hotwalls in Old Portsmouth. I love living by the sea and feel I was meant to be here. My family visit regularly and it’s lovely to show them around where I live.
I make my pots by pinching and coiling, an ancient, slow and thoughtful process which allows me to achieve the wobbly surface where my fingerprints have pinched the clay over and over to build the form.
Using handmade ceramics is a mindful experience – the care that goes into the finished piece and the journey of the raw material is visible in each pot. I have started using local clay from Milton which has brought amazing results. The process starts where it is fired and comes out a terracotta red colour. Then I fire it again and it comes out a fantastic bronze colour that just looks good without any glaze on it. I am really enjoying using this local clay and my customers enjoy hearing the story around using it as well.”
Foraging in Nature
Wandering around the studio, I love the natural elements used and you can tell that Hollie loves her surroundings, the sea, the beach and whatever is washed up there. Speaking of the foraging she does to add elements to her work, like all the shells and seaweed collected, Hollie said she loves being a short walk to the beach and sea from her studio and steps out regularly to collect natural seaweed to dry and make her pictures.
Even the process of preparing the seaweed found in nature has a delicate way of ending up as a print or an original piece to buy. Hollie says she suspends the found and washed-up seaweed in water and is very delicate in preserving the sculpture of the plant so it keeps its beautiful structure. You will be able to view these intricate prints and pictures to buy at the exhibition.
Looking at the new work getting ready for her first-ever solo exhibition this wknd, you can see the flow of nature and how the title of ‘Foraged and Found’ lends itself to the body of work that will be on display. My favourite pieces that are going to be on show are the candlesticks that have platforms to display shells, and foraged natural items found on the beach. I also love the clay shelves that can house all your trinkets and treasures you have found and want to display. Based on the wooden printing trays you can buy that are often vintage, Hollie said she loved these trays but loved the idea of making them in clay form and have proven very popular. I love the fact that these clay shelves are all different sizes, handmade and bring a sense of earthiness to them. They are just as endearing as the treasures found to house inside them.
Where to see the Exhibition
Head on down to Hotwalls this wknd and visit the Round Tower where Hollie will be with her exhibition, Foraged and Found. Opening on Friday the 24th of November until Sunday the 26th. Opening hours will be 10am until 4pm every day and FREE to the public.