I’m Sam Chatto, a British artist and maker currently working in clay to create functional and sculptural wood fired ceramics, from my home and studio in West Sussex. I’ve always had a strong affinity with creating objects, having spent much of my childhood crafting imagined landscapes and sculptural models, which then naturally led me to clay during my later years at school, where I explored the possibilities of large scale hand built sculpture. My creative practice took a backseat while I studied History of Art at the University of Edinburgh (2014-2018) but was revived, in the summer of 2017, by a visit to North Shore Pottery while on a road trip around the coast of Scotland, where I met, and bombarded with questions, ceramic artist Jenny Mackenzie Ross.
Inspired by what I had seen in Scotland, and completely uninspired by my three month job working in the commercial art market, I spent my weekends setting up a small home studio in an attempt to rediscover my creativity and, with the guidance of Michael O’Brien and Philip Wood, built a wood fired kiln at the bottom of my garden. Under the tutelage of Maham Anjum and Philip, I learned to throw, turn, and glaze my own work and, on my 21st birthday, under the constant drizzle of soft summer rain, I carried out my first twelve hour firing, full of wonder and delight. Opening the kiln the next day to reveal all my transformed and finished creations was quite literally like opening a new door to a world that felt like the one I was made to inhabit.
The summer ended with a few more experimental firings and, after my final year at university, I came full circle and returned to North Shore Pottery for a six week apprenticeship with Jenny. During my time there, clay consumed my every waking hour and, with Jenny’s patient and expert guidance, I developed a thorough technical understanding of ceramics while also having the freedom to develop my own style and approach to clay. My style will forever be evolving as I learn more about the rich history of ceramics both within the UK and throughout the world, and is constantly informed and enriched by my experiences. For example, recent trips to visit the Blue Pottery in Jaipur, India, as well as ceramics festivals in Mashiko and Kasama, Japan, renewed my conception of ceramics as a highly skilled art form and encouraged me to reconsider its often neglected place in the artificial hierarchy of western art. My approach however is rather more consistent; I intend, to the best of my ability, to create beautiful and well made objects, and to engage with the materials I am using in multiple ways, through the utilisation of a diverse range of techniques, including throwing, hand building, casting, and sculpting, informed by both ancient and contemporary practice.
So far, I have only been creating work for personal use and as gifts and commissions for my friends and family. The decision to start selling my work comes from a strong belief in the power of beautiful, well made objects to enrich and enhance our lives, and to engage us in a critical conversation with the things that we choose to surround ourselves with. I am also interested in the story that each object can tell us, from the materials it is made of, to the craftsperson who created it, and what inspired them to do so. My hope is that, in sharing my work and the stories that go with them - stories from Scotland, Japan, India, and my own Sussex garden - the narrative of each object will continue as it goes from being a part of my life to a part of yours.
Love, Sam x