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Starter Studio Ceramicist Victoria Dawes

Victoria Dawes joined us in Manor Oaks Studios to take up her place as a Starter Studio artist in October this year. The programme offers access to shared workspace, equipment, technical and mentor support, business advice as well as occasional commission and exhibition opportunities.

For the last year, Victoria has been an Anonymous Potter Studio Fellow in The Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, USA, where she has taught ceramics and developed her own practice. She is currently back in Minnesota for her exhibition opening, but we caught up with her in her studio before she went, and found a little bit more about her experiences of Sheffield so far, and got some invaluable tips for emerging artists.

What attracted you to the Starter Studio Programme at Yorkshire Artspace?

The fact that the programme is for two years was very attractive. Two years is a much better amount of time to be able to set down roots somewhere, develop a body of work and start showing it. Being part of a community of artists here in Sheffield was also very appealing. I think it’s important to find people who can help you develop your work, especially when you are in a new environment.

What are you working on and what is inspiring you at the moment?

Teaching and being a studio technician has been a huge priority so far, and so it has been nice to have the time here to develop my own work in my studio. I have found the rich history of the area, and the Discovery Centre and Turret House here on the Manor to be very inspiring and I think I will incorporate this into my work in some way. I am looking forward to developing a collection of work, and perhaps something wall mounted in the coming months.

Part of the Starter Studio Programme is access to the Starting Out programme – an online artist training course which aims to help artists with all aspects of developing their business and career. Is there anything that you will do differently as a result of what you have learned on the Starting Out course?

It has made me start thinking in a much more long range way, and especially about finances. I am now thinking more about where my work fits into the wider landscape and how it might be possible for me to make my living from ceramics.

What other practising artists do you admire?

American ceramicists mainly, I have to find out about some more artists in the UK! I love the work of Ursula Hargens and Irene Saito

What tips do you have for other artists just starting their careers?

Find a deadline or make one up! My career has progressed quickly because I challenge myself to do more than I thought I would be able to do. I am so glad that I have said yes to some of my daunting deadlines as they have always lead to other interesting projects along the way. I always seem to take on more work than I think I can do, and this seems to help me move forward and to stay focussed.