Mary Wright pottery at Sissinghurst Castle Garden
Sissinghurst is a very special garden, made up of strong structural elements and an abundance of planting. These two aspects are reflected in the range of pottery. Arch like structures are a repeated theme in the garden - the cobnut walk, the ironwork on the gazebo in the white garden and the archway near the restaurant.
For this project Mary spent time observing the garden throughout the changing seasons. The shapes of some of the flowers, leaves and autumnal seed heads that can be seen in the garden and particularly the white and herb gardens are used in a simple, stylised form.
The colours are those that Vita was looking for in the white garden, white, green and grey.
Some of the plants that have been used in the design are Gaura, Eryngium, Evening Primrose, Monarda, Agastache, Fennel, Chicory, Verbena, Papaver, Solanum, Leucanthemum and Rosa Alfred Carriere.
Mary’s love of pottery came from her childhood. She frequently went on holiday to Devon where she used to visit local potteries.
“I remember watching potters throwing on the wheel and being mesmerized by the beauty of the creative process. It made a lasting impression on me, particularly as I was always making things, keeping my hands busy. My grandmother and her family were artists and craftspeople, and were encouraging of all things creative.”
Mary works from a small studio at her house in Sevenoaks and after throwing the clay on her wheel, she applies liquid clay - slips - that are stained to make different colours. This creates background colours and then she uses a needle to cut a design through the slips, showing the original clay underneath. This technique is called sgraffito. Once the dried pottery is fired, a transparent glaze is applied and the pottery once again fired to a higher temperature. Slip work is a very old English technique, generally using earthenware clays, but Mary chooses to use stoneware clay as this is a more durable material for use in the home once fired.
“It has been a pleasure and an honour to design and make a set of pots exclusively for Sissinghurst Castle Garden. I hope that visitors enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed making them.”
To purchase one of Mary's pieces, pop in to the gift shop when you visit.