Last week I visited Kim Bagley‘s solo show ‘Africa and the West’ at the James Hockey gallery in Farnham. Kim has been working towards a PhD in Ceramics at the University of the Creative Arts in Farnham and this is her major exhibition. Kim started her PhD studies at the same time as I started studying for my MA in Ceramics. We shared workshop spaces at UCA for two years which undoubtedly had a great influence on me and my work. I learned a lot form her use of clay bodies, paperclay, reduction firing; but her enthusiastic approach to experimenting with clay and with ideas, was also infectious.

Kim Bagley - Africa and the West

Kim Bagley – Africa and the West

The show is described as “an exploration of the artist’s own African and South African identities” where the artist uses her ceramic pieces as “a metaphor and a starting point for examining questions of identity and representation”. You can read a little more about the underlying themes on the UCA website.

The main exhibition area is filled with ‘tents’ (each around two feet high) made from porcelain and terracotta paperclay. The forms represent extermination tents – tarpaulins used in South Africa to cover entire houses for fumigation against wood boring insects. The pieces here are in places marked with text, sometimes obscured, playing with the wording used on the tarpaulins themselves, but also with the theme of identity, labelling, tagging.

Several of these large pieces are grouped on the gallery floor, whilst others are suspended from the ceiling and appear to float upwards and away. To me they appeared like a swarm, both on the ground and in the air, captured whilst in movement. Other observers imagined they were placed as if on some distant hills. However, I couldn’t escape the sense that the fumigation tents had themselves been transformed into moving creatures.

Kim Bagley

The pieces suspended above the ground made fascinating reflections on the floor in different lights. Light also played a part with traces of text and markings showing through the ‘skin’ of porcelain. The pieces on the ground hinted at animal forms in other ways, not least through their rib-like structures. For these pieces, the tents enveloped a scaffolding – a skeleton that made its presence known through the fabric of the clay and at the base. Some of them even looked like they might scuttle away at any moment on their many legs. Perhaps I’m anthropomorphising too much here, but animal themed undertones infuse the work and the scale of the pieces invite the viewer to relate to them.

Kim Bagley Kim Bagley

There are three main elements of the exhibition and beyond the ‘tents’ there are other significant pieces on show. There are two hanging pieces which are formed from hundreds of paperclay pieces strung together with silk thread. Each element is in the shape of ear tags commonly used to identify cattle. The pieces, when viewed from a distance take on the appearance of a curtain, but with the hint of a cow hide.

Kim Bagley


Kim Bagley

The centre piece in the gallery entrance uses the same palate of raw, unglazed clay colours, mixing porcelain, terracotta, stoneware. This piece represents a herd of cattle, each five or six centimetres high but, like the tags, forming a whole piece when grouped together. There is a sense of awe felt when looking down on them, as if from a hot air balloon perhaps, and the placing of the piece close to the ground forces this perspective. But the feeling changes when you get right up close to them and on their level. The notion alters to wondering if they might stampede. I’m the lucky owner of a couple of these animals. They’re beautiful in their own right, but there’s great power in the herd.

Kim Bagley

Kim Bagley




Crafts Council Hothouse logo

My adventure on the Crafts Council’s Hothouse 2014 programme has almost finished. Thirty-eight emerging makers, including myself, were selected to take part in an intensive programme of business and craft development. We’ve participated in a series of workshops and events designed to bring on our craft businesses and help us formulate the beginnings of a career in the sector.

It’s been a lot of hard work, including trying to get to grips with tax and finances (there have been a lot of spreadsheets) as well as working on our presentation skills (some drama and roll play did occur!).


Hanne Mannheimer

Alongside the workshops we were each assigned a ‘buddy’ and a ‘mentor’ – professionals already working in our field of practice, to help and guide us along the way. My ‘buddy’ is Hanne Mannheimer who makes beautiful vessels as well as site specific work. My ‘mentor’ is Katharine Morling who creates fascinating objects in porcelain forming ‘three dimensional drawings’. Both have been extremely helpful and supportive.


Katharine Morling



Aspects of the programme have acted as a kind of continuation of university studies in a way – supplying a feeling similar to having that collective experience and group of peers around you.

As a kind of finale to the programme, a selected number of Hothouse participants are now showing their work at the New Ashgate gallery in Farnham. The work on show illustrates just a small amount of the fantastic range of crafts in the programme, but the pieces on show also compliment each other really well. The show is on to the end of July, but I hope to continue existing friendships and supportive networks as well as establishing new ones to help carry on the dialogue.

Here are some images from the New Ashgate Gallery show.

New Ashgate Selects

12 June, 2014

Hothouse 4: New Ashgate Selects

21 June to 2 August 2014

Elaine Bolt ceramic & mixed media object detail

Elaine Bolt mixed media object

The New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham, Surrey, has invited 12 makers from this year’s Crafts Council Hothouse programme to exhibit in this year’s summer show.

The makers selected for the exhibition are: Jenny Ayrton, myself (Elaine Bolt !), Sarah Brown, Sue Brown, Marie Canning, Adam Collins, Katharina Eisenkoeck, Elaine Jenkins, Alex McCarthy, Imogen Noble, Paula Ortega and Stephanie Tudor.

The show runs from the 21 June to 2 August 2014. The private view will be on the 20 June, 6-8pm, I’ll be there and all are welcome.

Gallery Director Dr Outi Remes has said that this event will be a little different to their usual private views as it will also be a ‘soiree’,  celebrating the Gallery’s success over the last two years. The event will be joined by the MP Jeremy Hunt… and by internationally recognised ceramic artist Gareth Mason who will be saying a few words. Gareth Mason usually speaks energetically and from the heart about ceramics, the making process and the challenges of the craft, so he’s certainly always worth hearing from!

New Ashgate Gallery logo

Crafts Council Hothouse logo




A show of hands

19 November, 2013

I’ve just got home and am trying to quickly recharge my batteries after a stint of showing and selling my work. In fact, it was two shows and the work of many hands that became the focus of the past two weeks for me.

As detailed in my last post, I had a stand at Handmade in Britain and at Art in Clay. Here are some images of the stands I set up.

It was also fantastic to get a chance, albeit brief, to leave my stand and see the work of other makers and artists at the shows. For example, another potter at Handmade, Jane Sarre, who has written a great piece on her blog with tips for setting up and running a stand.

It’s hard to single out makers from so many who made beautiful and interesting things at the shows. But some of the ones I chatted to, and admired the work of, included silver by EJ Mahoney; wood pieces by Mark Hanvey; ceramics by Richard Heeley; lighting by Felix Proctor amongst so many more.

I also met and talked to many visitors who were makers themselves, over the two weekends, and it was great to have their support and interest. Makers who visited included jewellery designer Emily Kidson, potter Juliet Macleod, UCA ceramics student Hajnalka Rezes, and fellow future Hothouse participant Imogen Noble (more on Hothouse next). Thanks to you all for visiting and keeping my spirits up on long days. They were both great shows and great experiences in very different ways. But I could do with a rest now!

Setting off

3 November, 2013

This week I’m packing up all my best pieces, and heading off to show my work at two fantastic events:

I have some new ideas to share as well as my range of vessels and other objects. Here are some images of pieces for the shows, fresh out of the kiln.

See below for details of both shows, including venue location, opening times, and tickets.

I hope to see you there!

Handmade in Britain – 8th-10th November

handmade in britain

The show features over 100 exhibitors in all disciplines including furniture, jewellery, textiles, ceramics and glass – all with a focus on quality and craftsmanship.

I will be exhibiting as part of their ‘New Graduate Showcase’ a celebration of new talent in a dedicated gallery within the show.

As well as my work, the showcase will feature 4 other emerging makers and designers in the field of contemporary crafts. These include textile designer Amanda Gibbs; jeweller Anna Byers, glass artist Peter Kucerik and interior accessories designer Felix Proctor.

A pdf of the flier with location and contact details can be viewed by clicking here: HandmadeinBritaineflyer

Venue: Chelsea Old Town Hall, King’s Road, London, SW3 5EE
Opening Times: 11:00 – 19:00 Friday 8th; 11:00 – 18:00 Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th November
Admission Prices: One day: £7, Concessions: £5. There is an online early bird offer of £5


Art in Clay Farnham – 16th-17th Nov.

art in clay logoArt in Clay Farnham 2013

Art in Clay at Farnahm Maltings is a dedicated ceramics fair, showcasing some of the finest ceramics currently being made by individual makers in the UK and Europe.

There will be a range of work from newly qualified artists working in clay, to potters with many years of creative work behind them.

Venue: The Maltings, Bridge Square, Farnham Surrey, GU9 7QR
Opening Times: 10am – 5pm Saturday 16th; 10am – 4.30pm Sunday 17th November
Admission: Adult £5 Concession £4.50 Children 15yrs and under go free


MAde 2012

2 September, 2012

Ceramics by Elaine Bolt, on display at the MAde 2012 MA show

The MAde 2012 MA Show at UCA Farnham opened on Friday. The Private View was great fun, so thanks to everyone who came along. The show will run until the 7th September. Here are some initial images from the exhibition and my work on display. I will be at the show all day on the 4th if you are planning on popping by.

Elaine Bolt 'Milk Bottle' detailI’ve been working away at producing a new range of ceramics for my MA Show at UCA Farnham. Here is a selection of the new pieces that I’ve created.

For this range the tones are warmer and surfaces softer. Milky satin glazes are contrasted with dark matt clay surfaces. Some pieces belong together, others can shift and form different combinations. Compositions can be created with vessels and objects, sticks, spoons and other things…
The show will be at the James Hockey Gallery in Farnham, Surrey. It opens on the 31 August and runs to 7 September.

I will be there on the 31st and the 4th, so I hope to see you if you can make it. For more details on the show see MAde 2012 Farnham blog.