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




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




Migrating Spoons

12 April, 2014

My spoons have been travelling. The surprising adventures of the ‘curious utensils’ has taken my spoons all the way to the USA.

One of my spoons has been selected to be part of an exhibition entitled OBJECT:SPOON 2014 organised by  Vipoo Srivilasa at Harvard University. The exhibition will feature 25 ceramic spoons of all different shapes and varieties, from 16 different countries. The show will run from 17 May to 27 June 2014.

Elaine Bolt spoon group


Thanks to the lovely Ioneta gallery in Maine, a selection of my spoons are also now available at the gallery and are currently featured as Item of the week on their website. My spoons sit happily amongst a selection of fascinating craft objects and antiques for the home, sourced from Japan and the US.

Elaine Bolt spoons at Ioneta


Its a strange thing, my tiny fragile spoons making their way around the world.  When I sent the spoons by courier to Ioneta, I was able to follow them online using the parcel tracking service. It recorded the parcel’s various stopping points from Sussex to Stanstead airport in the UK, to Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris, to Newark airport New Jersey and finally to Rockland, Maine. It was a curious, and slightly nail-biting experience, like tracking migrating birds perhaps, willing them to reach their destination safely.


29 March, 2014

I am delighted to say that my work is now available at the very lovely Ioneta gallery in Maine USA.

Sourcing items from Maine, Japan and the UK, Ioneta brings together a select range of beautiful objects in a variety of media, featuring ‘a blend of found objects, works on paper, vintage and new textiles, and pieces crafted, by hand that make everyday use a joy.’

Visit their online shop, or tumblr site to see more of their beautifully curated collection.

Elaine Bolt vessel at Ioneta

Elaine Bolt ‘Dark Vessel’ at Ioneta

Bircham Gallery Exhibition

22 February, 2014


The next show I’m gearing up for is at the fantastic Bircham Gallery in Holt, Norfolk. They are holding a ‘Newcomers’ exhibition “showcasing new artists and makers at Bircham Gallery taken on during their anniversary year“. Exhibitors in the show include:

Paintings: Stephanie Lambourne, Sally Tyrie, Stephen Robson, Helen Terry.
Ceramics: Katharina Klugg, Lowri Davies, Sarah Jenkins, Patricia Shone, Elaine Bolt, Alison Graham, Vicky Shaw.
Jewellery: Mariko Sumioka, Emma Goward, Stacey Bentley
Textiles/Paper: Matthew Harris

The show runs from the 8th March to the 2nd April 2014. More info on opening hours and directions can be found on their facebook event page.

I’m delivering the work there next week as I’ve created a few new utensil pieces and these are always a delicate affair. The delivery also gives me an opportunity for a mini ceramics road-trip to Holt via a few museums and galleries, including hopefully the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, at UEA.

Bircham Gallery Newcomers exhibition 2014
Textiles by Matthew Harris



On the weekend of the 15th and 16th of February I will be exhibiting at Aspex Gallery, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth as part of their Contemporary Makers Fair 2014. I’ll have a range of my work there for sale, including some new designs fresh out of the kiln.  The event will be open from 11-5 on both days and will showcase a selection of designer makers from the South East including fellow Crafts Council Hothouse participant Jelka Quintelier. Aspex will also be running workshops for children and adults across the weekend.


Designer Crafts 2014

30 December, 2013

So 2013 has been an exciting year for developing and exhibiting my work. My first full year of business since completing my MA has been a pretty busy one. I got back in the studio today after a short break and am busy working on some new ideas and pieces. There’s lots to look forward to in 2014 and it’s starting well, with the first Crafts Council Hothouse event next week and a fantastic show in London starting soon after.

I will have a selection of my work available at the Designer Crafts 2014, ‘Shop within the Show’, organised by the Society of Designer Craftsmen. Come to the Mall Gallery from the 10th January to see ceramics, furniture, glass, jewellery, metal, mixed media, textiles and wood by both established, and emerging, designer-makers.

My pieces will include a selection of celadon vessels and some rather cute sets of tiny pots and spoons.


The show will be at The Mall, London SW1 and runs from Friday 10th to Sunday 19th January 10am to 5pm (closing at 4pm on the 19th).

Designer Crafts 2014

Setting out

29 September, 2013

I’ve been focusing on compositions recently, bringing together individual elements that together form a single piece or create a ‘set’ There’s something about composing these elements that fascinates me. It also seems to satisfy my ideas about how my work can be displayed: contrasting porcelain with the dark terracotta.

The idea for the ‘grounds’ (the thrown terracotta bases) used in these pieces, is influenced by every day items as utilitarian as a tray or a placemat ready for dinner. For some pieces though they might also suggest an extended ‘shadow’ for the pots placed on it, or simply offer a visual boundary for grouped items.

Selected compositions, including those pictured, along with a range of my other pieces, have just been sent off to the very lovely Bils and Rye Gallery in Yorkshire.

I’ve just sent off a selection of pieces to the Junction Art Gallery in Woodstock (Oxfordshire).

Elaine Bolt vessel group

It might be the name Woodstock making me feel wistful and reflective (and just a little bit cheesy), but I love having pieces at a new gallery, it makes me look at my work in a fresh light. In choosing pieces to send, I need to put together a selection that works well together, and that fits with both mine and the gallery’s approach. This often has the knock-on effect of making me reassess the pieces I have available and what I plan to make next.

I’ve also been working on how I’m represented online. So, I’ve just updated some images and info on the fantastic Craft Finder website and bought a new domain name for my own website: (you’re already here). I’m also working on building up a small collection of work available through the new online shop Home of Artisans.

I still have lots of other places where my work is represented that could do with some refreshing and I’ll keep working on that. But for now I’ve got to get myself back to the garden

Bircham Gallery

12 May, 2013

A selection of my work will shortly be available at the Bircham Gallery in Holt in Norfolk. The gallery has a fantastic selection of contemporary studio ceramics along with a wide range of  crafts and artwork.

The pieces I’m sending include some of my celadon vessels, my grouped compositions and the reduction fired terracotta vessels that I named ‘Dark Metal’.

The terracotta I use turns a dark chocolate colour through the reduction firing process and gains a kind of metallic quality to the surface. I love the contrast between these pieces and the light celadon glazes. The compositions I’ve produced bring both elements together in a single grouping.

Elaine_Bolt_Waiting composition detail