Talking to Florence St George on her journey through the art of Pottery and her experience on the hit ‘The Great Pottery Throw Down’.
Pottery has always been something I had a interest in but recently I got into watching the ‘Great Pottery Throw Down’ and after watching it I was instantly inspired to go out and buy some clay and that’s what I did! I bought a random block of clay from TK-Maxx and created some of my own coasters!
When watching the Great Pottery Throw Down I was in awe of how beautiful all of Flea’s pieces were! They were all fabulous and often inspired by the beach and flowers.
After her unfortunate exit from the show I often follow Flea on instagram where she shows off her amazing pottery skills with beautiful backdrop of the gorgeous island of Grand Bahama!
I contacted Flea for this Q&A and she was the loveliest collaborator with such a great story of how she got into pottery and where her inspirations come from!
Over to Flea…
• have you always been interested in Pottery and what made you get into the art of Pottery?
In 2014 just after my little girl, Iris, was born I developed postpartum depression and hashimoto’s disease. During the crazy whirlwind of pregnancy, giving birth, giving up work as a model and actress and travelling between London and a tiny island in the Bahamas (where my husband works) I quickly lost a sense of self and self worth. And was prescribed antidepressants’.
Shortly after this tricky time, I bought my first bag of clay. While being buried under a pile of nappies. I turned a corner of my kitchen into a studio and started hand-building bowls, pots and vases; firing them at a local studio.
I fell in love with the feeling of losing myself in making, building, creating. I realised how important it was for me to use my hands, how kneading clay released a rush of endorphins, the mindless but mindfulness of making. As well as doing something for myself, learning a new craft, feeling like an artist and belonging to a community. I was left with this paradox that from post natal depression came something wonderful ( not as wonderful as motherhood but wonderful): a new life as an artist and potter.
Where do you mostly get your design inspiration for your pottery?
My favourite sculpture I’ve made sits at home in the entrepreneur and interior designer, India Hicks’ home on Harbour Island. Made from porcelain, it is a wafer thin conch shell bowl, layers and layers of thin clay overlap each other. India remarks:
‘The pineapple, famously, is a sign of welcome in the tropics…in our home in the Bahamas its the conch shell, a beautiful clay conch shell lovingly shaped by the talented hands of Florence St George, which rests temptingly on our terrace for friends and family to admire as they arrive.’
I like to apply the concept of ‘Wabi Sabi’ to my pieces, which is the perfect / imperfect. I like to push the clay to its limits and I have done just this in this sculpture; hairline line fractures and cracks simultaneously intentionally and unintentionally appear on the surface of the clay. I love to see the cracks appear, allowing the light to seep through the thin porcelain.
what made you get involved in The Great Pottery Throw Down? – & did you learn anything from being on the show?
Initially, it seemed counterintuitive for me to apply to ‘The Great Pottery Throw Down’ when they were originally casting in England because I had an intense period of intolerable scrutiny from the British tabloids, I became paranoid about cameras and that’s not ideal when your day job is modelling.
I really like to keep my personal life private and I shy away from cameras when it’s not work related and a return to being in front of the camera felt pretty scary. The first day of filming was terrifying and being on a reality TV show is an entirely new experience and it’s hard getting used to cameras shooting from every angle, and at least 10 cameras on you at any given time.
I wanted to be part of this show and be proud of the pottery skills I’d learnt as a result of my post- natal depression and to tell my story how ceramics helped me overcome depression. I learned from my fellow Ceramicists on the show and we were all madly creative and competitive. Luckily the production team were so nurturing and my fellow competitors were inspiring; we found our rhythm and gently got into the swing of it. I learnt so much. It was like a ceramic university on steroids.
What advice would you give someone who is wanting to start out with pottery?
Find a local studio and pick up a piece of clay, become part of the clay community. Community and the village vibe is what we all need right now. Enough with isolation! ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.
If you can’t find a local studio, buy a bag of air dry clay on amazon or similar and just start to get the feel for the mud between you fingers. How does it make you feel? Does it relieve stress? Does it take you away from your phone, computer, social media? Clay is magic and therapeutic for so many reasons; for me its about being in a mindful and mindless bliss. I teach a group of special needs children in the Bahamas. Teaching these children has taught me so many valuable life lessons. There is a boy called Dorian and his focus on the wheel is unparalleled because he is in that moment with the clay and nowhere else. He has very little expectation of the outcome, whether he makes a bowl, a vase or even if he just makes a mess. He is so happy being right there in THE MOMENT and it is magical to watch.
Never underestimate the strength of your immediate surrounding community/family/village. Social media when used in the wrong way can be a competitive and toxic space for motherhood and womanhood. I am always very open about my shortcomings with regards to my mental health and I feel I have been so lucky and have a story to tell which I hope in turn can benefit other women who may have experienced something similar. Clay is so therapeutic, for me it works like a yoga practice, so my advice would be to just pick up a piece of clay! Quick! We all ‘need to knead!’