Walking along the narrow corridors of the Arts Space on the Saturday of the 40th Anniversary, I knew I was heading for one studio and that was Southsea Mudlark AKA Lynn Nicholls. I had seen her on Instagram, there was a brooch I had my eye on called the 'Louise Brooch' and I felt I had to go and have a look. When I arrived I was blown away by Lynn's style and design skills. I bought a Louise Brooch for me and one for my friend and decided right there I wanted to come back and write a feature about this lovely artisan we are so lucky to have in the city.
On a windy, Monday lunchtime, I caught up with Lynn to talk about her latest projects but also to admire some more of her work in the fab little studio she has on Brougham Road.
Lynn started her career as a set designer for the BBC, working on shows like Victoria Wood and lots of others we all love and might be familiar with. Not only did she do the set design but would run out to get all the props for the shows she was working on. Having done that role for a few years, Lynn said South Downs College wanted a teacher for set design and photography and so she took the job and found herself working with colleges all across Hampshire.
Feeling the need for a creative hobby, Lynn fell on a class 6 years ago at the Clay Session that was in the city. Instantly becoming hooked on these classes, producing ceramics, and throwing slabs of clay around, Lynn found a new passion and a new creative outlet.
Exhibiting at the Southern Ceramics Group, Southsea Mudlark said she would describe herself as someone that makes functional, thrown or slab-built decorative earthenware and particularly enjoys exploring colour, and abstract design. By working on hand-thrown, functional pots and exploring the use of surface decoration and texture, allows Lynn to work with patterns and multi-layering glazes. You can tell she enjoys this whole process and says that when she walks home from her studio she might see a skyline or a sunset and it inspires her painting style of the pots, plates, or jugs that she creates. Looking at her new collection which has lovely greys and blues, Lynn said that those few pieces were inspired by the skyline of Victorious on the Bank Holiday wknd.
Her style of using abstract design really draws you in and makes your eyes wander around every detail of the ceramic piece but is also is very different from the face pots, plates, and brooches she produces. They are very striking and bold and I love that. Lynn said that she sells different wares across the city working with all kinds of Independents. You might see her face plant pots in Blossoms Boutique and then her more abstract ceramic pots on the Pretty Green Pots and Plants stall. You can also catch her beautiful ceramic earrings in Coastal Remedy and you can be sure to see her on the Love Southsea stall.
Talking about some of the projects we can look forward to, Lynn spoke of her involvement in setting up the 'Empty Bowls' project in Portsmouth with the Omega St Potters and St Simon’s Church in Southsea. Collectively they made and donated over 150 handmade bowls. The 'Empty Bowls’ project is a worldwide movement by artists and craftspeople in cities and towns around the world who want to make a difference and help feed the hungry in their home city or town. Locally, Lynn felt that it really brought people from our city into a communal environment to share a simple meal together, while raising funds and awareness of the homeless and hungry in the city. This project will be happening again so look out for that and how you can get involved.
Southsea Mudlark is currently working with a local artist on a ceramic piece which will be a one-off and really focuses on bringing creatives together and how their collaboration can bring exciting works and different mediums to produce new craft, so make sure to look out for that.
I love this artisan's style and can't wait to go back to her collection and invest in more of her work. Keep an eye out for Southsea Mudlark around Southsea and see her work in Blossoms Boutique, Coastal Remedy and on the Pretty Green stall when it returns to Southsea.
See below for more images and Social Media links.