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Clay Artist

Clay Artist

Sara Flynn

How did you become interested in your career?

I did a foundation course in Cork in 1988 with the intention of going on to study Painting. One of the materials we were able to experiment on the course was Clay - I loved it immediately and my direction changed.

I studied Ceramics in the Crawford College of Art & Design in Cork from 1989 - 1992 (Diploma), and then for my Degree (1997 - 1998).

Following my Degree I had utter focus and intention to make a career through working with clay.

(In between my Diploma and Degree I lived in London and worked in Harrods Department store (1994 - 1997) where I completed a Business Management Course.)

What has your career looked like so far?

There have been some key junctions in my career.

  1. Coming back as a mature student with some business understanding helped my focus about setting up my first studio in Kinsale, Co. Cork. in 1999.
  2. Realising I needed a larger and private space, I moved and set up my second studio in West Cork in 2005. This move co-incided with a crucial change-of-direction in my work; shifting from making functional ware to Sculptural Vessels.
  3. In turn, the change of what I was making meant a change in commercial needs; I understood that I needed to sell my work to an International Market.This was made possible by participation in the following critical events…

- Origin Craft Fair (London) and Ceramic Art London (Self-funded - Each year for 3 connective years)

- In 2006 The Crafts Council of Ireland established ‘Portfolio’, a critical selection of makers, which set a bar to aim for in the hope of being accepted. Once accepted, makers could be considered for participation in the following…

- 'SOFA’ (Sculptural Objects and Functional Art), Chicago, U.S.A. &    ‘COLLECT’, London, U.K.

- I was chosen to participate in both events for 2 consecutive years each. These events proved pivotal to my career.

4. in 2010 at ‘Collect’ London, my work was seen by a wonderful London Gallery who now represent me today and with whom I have a crucially supportive relationship. (Erskine Hall & Coe). I have a solo exhibition with them every 2- 3 years.

My work continues to develop.

Day in the Life: Describe your typical working day.

When I am in the middle of a making-period I begin in the studio at 9am and finish at 5pm. I postpone any admin and e-mail work for when I am home in the evenings; and usually turn my brain off by 7:30pm.

My working-day changes depending on the cycle of making each day & week. It can be a day of single-focus activity (altering & refining) or multiple-activity (throwing, glazing, starting and finishing) which tends to be the case the majority of the time.

I am dictated by the clay most of the time - when the material is ready I need to work with it, rather than the other way around.

If you could give your younger self a piece of advice what would it be?

I’ve taken the liberty to answer this twice…two pieces of advice - both really important. 

1.Pay a professional photographer for good photography from the start. It is not a question about whether or not you can afford it - it is a statement that you can’t afford NOT to do it.

2.Recognise* when you are given good advice and, even when it stings - take it.

(*This is the real challenge. Advice from experienced, trusted people rather than everything everyone throws at you!).

Design & Crafts Council of Ireland