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Stuart Carey: the leading craftsman whose name you should know

Emma Love,
Interiors Editor, Edition

As his new tableware range for Croft Collection launches, we meet potter Stuart Carey, who shares his inspiration and explains how he’s supporting the ceramicists of the future

Stuart Carey's ceramics shown as part of the Croft Collection at John Lewis & Partners

Over the past seven years, Stuart Carey has established himself as one of the country’s leading potters, best known for his hand-thrown, semi-porcelain stoneware vessels. This autumn marks a new direction for the ceramicist, with the launch of his tableware for Croft Collection. “For this range, I’ve taken inspiration from my personal work, which has always been timeless, comfortable and unobtrusive in the home,” explains Stuart. With this collaboration, he is transitioning from making every piece himself to manufacturing on a larger scale. “My designs have to be strong enough to stand alone, yet quiet enough to sit beside other things.”

Stuart made hand-thrown originals of each stoneware piece – plates, mugs, bowls and jugs – from which moulds were created. He then visited the factory in Portugal to get the white, grey and brown glazes exactly right. “For me, the palette always has to be soft; I look at colour from a textile artist’s point of view,” he explains. “They pick a shade first and then recreate it in yarn, whereas ceramicists are often more materials led.”

Alongside his own practice, the Royal College of Art graduate also co-owns and runs The Kiln Rooms, three open-access ceramics studios in Peckham, London. These offer everything from taster sessions for beginners to workspaces for makers. “Ceramics has been taken out of education at so many levels and I’m passionate about seeing it not only survive but thrive,’ says Stuart. The idea of the studios, which are used by 300 people each week, is ‘to create a home for anyone who is interested in ceramics. We offer a nurturing environment where we can teach those who want to do it professionally how to move forward as makers.”

With his devotion to the craft, it’s strange to think that Stuart only took it up by chance. The head of his high school’s art department, a trained potter, picked Stuart’s name out of a hat to be one of 15 pupils learning ceramics instead of the painting and drawing syllabus. “I became really engrossed in clay: I was in the pottery every lunchtime and after lessons,” he recalls. It was at school, too, where he discovered the work of Australia’s renowned contemporary potter Gwyn Hanssen Pigott. “She talked about the rightness of form, the idea of an object that feels right and is incredibly beautiful just by being.” Much the same can be said of Stuart’s new tableware.