Introduced to clay by her mother when she was ten years old, Grainne Watts studied ceramics at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin before becoming an apprentice to Irish potter, Geoffrey Healy. This experience inspired her love for the potter’s wheel and gave her an appreciation of the “painstaking discipline of repetition throwing.”
Watts works to a rhythm, which underpins her work, throwing forms in either Stoneware or Porcelain clays for up to eight hours a day. “You get into an economy of movement,” she says, “your stock of clay behind you, and using a minimum number of movements to make a piece.”
The Irish coastline has long been a source of inspiration for Watts, who has combed beaches in search of weather-eroded flotsam and indented stones that she uses as prompts for her work. “It can be the form, a bend in the shell, or just a line,” she says. “Whatever it is, it speaks to me in some way.”
Layers of vibrant underglazes and slips on these tactile forms create an interesting surface detail, but it is the use of unusual colour contrast that makes Watts’ vessels sing, as her meticulous, geometrical decoration creates a captivating optical illusion.
Grainne lives and works in Kilkenny.