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Everyday's a Clay Day!

Updated: Apr 15

Ceramicist Ceri White joined Perthshire Artisans in early 2023 and following the exciting news in early January 2024 that Aberdeen Art Gallery recently purchased 3 of her pieces to add to their Archive Collection, we wanted to find out a bit more about how and why she loves working with clay! Ceri's studio and her distinctive colourful ceramics will be available to visit and enjoy as part of the Creative Spring Market & Open Studios event at Perth Creative Exchange on 25 & 26 May.

How and why did you start in business?

I actually fell headlong into it when the tile-making studio I was working for closed. In two weeks I had bought the equipment, taken over the studio lease and was off making decorative tiles of my own without a pause for reflection.

How did you get to where you are today?

I moved to Perthshire from Leith 20 years ago and immediately joined a committee of artists working to make things happen in Perthshire.  Best thing I ever did: in the blink of an eye, I'd made friends, the wider creative community got to know my name and found myself in at the start of a number of creative-led initiatives.

The most recent game-changer for me was moving into WASPS Creative Exchange studio complex in Perth 4 years ago. It gave me an immediate creative, vibrant community of like-minded professionals I see every day; it's enabled me to go for bigger shows and generally kick things up a notch.

Who has helped you along the way? 

Too many individual creative friends to name. You find that you have a huge support network when you tap into it! My customers and social media followers have been amazing. And GrowBiz - mainly via its creative arm, Perthshire Artisans - has been great this past year, really raising my local professional profile and connecting me with likeminded creatives.

What was your biggest mistake? 

A big one was sticking for years with producing something that I liked aesthetically, but I was bored making, resulting in me just avoiding it and a lot more besides. I would procrastinate for months.

What is your greatest achievement to date? 

I was over the moon at the end of last year, when Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums bought three of my pieces for their Archive Collection through their modern acquisitions programme. I studied at Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen, and my Dad was an Aberdonian himself, so the connection really means something to me. It is a beautiful museum, with a fantastic collection and I spent hours in there as a student, never having a clue that future me would have a presence there.

Examples of Ceri's ceramic pieces featured on Perthshire Artisans

How have rising costs impacted your business?

It is incredibly frustrating when you work long hours, finally start seeing an actual living is possible, and suddenly it is all devalued as every other basic necessity is rocketing. And obviously, I run a kiln and my studio rent contributes to the running of the building, so all those costs have gone up considerably. Add that to the damage reeked by Brexit, it's not easy. The spending habits of previously comfortable ceramics fans have changed fairly drastically too. Caution is more evident. People still need a bit of joy for sure and want to treat themselves in a considered way.

What do you hope to achieve in the future? 

Any sort of equilibrium/life balance!?? Honestly, I will be happy to continue with building my profile, making and selling work I can be proud of that people enjoy, but without giving myself regular burn-out.

Do you want to recruit in the future? No. Some sort of PA fairy would be amazing, but really this is a one woman band.

What is the hardest thing about running your own business? 

The admin avalanche. Honestly, I couldn't even tell you what half of it is, but it's always there,trying to bury you. And the Holy Grail of work/life balance – the hunt goes on.

Any advice to wannabe entrepreneurs? 

Don't undervalue your work or yourself. Enjoy the main aspect of what you do because you'll probably be spending long hours doing it. Ask for help from your community and any advisory bodies like GrowBiz or Business Gateway. Take what you need from these things to fit yourself. Be your own biggest fan. Why not? You should love what you have to offer as much as anyone.

Read Ceri's Artisan Profile Page and see more of her work here.

This information originally featured as part of the Courier's Business section on 26.2.24

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