Q&A: We chat to ceramic artist Hayley Bridgford

Q&A: We chat to ceramic artist Hayley Bridgford

New Zealand is a country of talented artisans including the likes of ceramic artist, Hayley Bridgford. The Auckland-based artist is gracing local eateries and homes with her lovingly crafted plates, bowls, mugs and vases. And now, Città customers can adorn their home with one of Hayley’s creations.

Our new collaboration features 500 limited edition Città x Hayley Bridgford Ceramic Vessels. Each vessel is unique, having been thrown on a pottery wheel by Hayley before being glazed in five beautiful colours.

We sat down with Hayley to find more about her career, inspiration and the exciting collaboration.

Hayley, tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve been potting since I was 15. I grew up in Auckland and I am a mum of three kids—17, 13 and nine.

How did you first get into pottery?

My sister and I decided to do a night course at Auckland Studio Potters. We were taught by such wonderful people as Peter Lange, Lex Dawson and some fantastic potters who were teaching there at the time—a lot of whom are still there. I kept doing it and went to art school in Dunedin to do a Ceramics Diploma. I loved it as soon as I started doing it.

How did the collaboration with Città come to life?

Imogen [Head of Textile Design] approached me wondering if I wanted to do a collab. We threw a few product ideas around—like bowls, cups, beakers or jugs. I would come in and have meetings with the textile team. It went from quite a broad idea of what we should be making down to a multi-functional beaker. At first, I think it was going to be 300 pieces and that was quite daunting. And then Imogen said, “how about 500?” And I thought, “why not?” And I think I didn’t quite grasp how much more another 200 would be.

How long did it take to create the 500 vessels?

From start to finish, I think it took three months. I didn’t take on too much else at the same time. During the firing process, we lost 100 of them so we had to start again. I made about 50 at a time. I’d weigh the clay, wedge it, ball it and have a big bucket next to me and throw, throw, throw. I’d get into a bit of a zone.

And how did you determine the colours?

The five colours are inspired by Città’s summer palette, and happily, some of my signature colours like Masala, Salt and Sand worked in perfectly with this. The Città team also wanted a deep green and a peachy, dirty pink. Pink can be tricky to glaze so that was quite a process with lots of glaze tests. The colour turned out to be a beautiful deep, dusky purple.

Where do you take your inspiration from?

Nature and the New Zealand coastline and bush. My work generally has earthy tones and organic forms. I trawl through other people’s work and get ideas for shapes and what’s current. I also really love going to the museum and looking at old shapes—vases and old urns and the old master potters like Lucy Rie. Their work doesn’t necessarily translate into my work, but I am always looking at other potters’ work.

Are you seeing young people wanting to learn pottery? What do you think it comes down to?

I think we are pretty saturated with technology and plugged in so much. It’s that need for a bit of grounding—to get their hands in mud and create. It can help you be in the moment and just slow life down a little bit.

Is there a big pottery community? Do you work with other artists?

For the last four years I have worked out of the studio of my mentor and renowned potter Peter Collis in Birkenhead. I recently worked with wood maker/furniture maker Grant Bailey for Deadly Ponies and I collaborate with interior designers for private commissions—dinner sets and things. The pottery community is amazing. It’s so helpful, vibrant and lively. It’s a pretty great thing to be a part of.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m generally up at 7am to get the kids ready for school—lunches made, teeth brushed and tidy the house a little bit so it’s not too crazy when I get home. I get to the studio by 9.30am and work to 11am… stop for coffee, work to 1pm, stop for lunch, home at 3pm for the kids. It has been nice having such a structure and it helps with productivity. I think the artist’s life can be kind of viewed as “I can do whatever I want” but you have to be very disciplined. It’s a job and it has time frames, structure and routine.

What is the best part of what you do?

I think what I enjoy most about it is the joy of opening a kiln that has successfully fired and knowing that I’m going to be delivering quite beautiful pieces to people.

And on the flipside what’s the worst part? Opening an unsuccessful kiln?

Yeah, that’s really bad. Having unsuccessful firings is just the pits. It can be a little bit soul-destroying and you start thinking, “why am I doing this?” It’s time, money and resources. But that kind of happens less and less and less these days. Successful firings are the norm, which is good. There aren’t many cons about being a potter. It’s a pretty great job.

If you had three words to describe your style, what would you say?

Functional, organic and aesthetically harmonious—it’s not jarring and it’s easy to live with.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

I’d like to express how nice it’s been working with the Città team—it really has. They’ve let me go for it while still holding what they want, which is really nice. It’s been a seamless collab.

The Città x Hayley Bridgford handmade vessels are available from select Città stores now. The five colours include Salt, Masala, Sand, Nori and Dusk. Get in quick so you don’t miss out on one of the 500 beautiful vessels. Click here to find out more.

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