This week I am in the company of Caroline Seaton at her Amberley Pottery.
I ask Caroline about her life as a potter at Amberley. She replies “I am incredibly grateful for the fact that I love making pots. I lost my husband and then when my mother died I became an elderly orphan. This [place] has been my reason for getting up each day. I still after all these years like the materials. I get tremendous pleasure and excitement unpacking the kiln. It’s out of your control you’ve done what you can but sometimes you get a tremendous surprise, or sometimes not.
I’m so grateful for the fact that I come round here. I don’t ever get bored so I’m very thankful for that.” Caroline has been at the Amberley Pottery for some 40 years, and potted from home before that.
I comment on how I have always admired Caroline’s resilience and grace because whatever life throws at her she’s always put her apron, dusted off her pots and pressed on. Caroline smiles and replies “Well what else would you do?” I agree.
She continues “Since my husband and my mother died the pottery has managed to just fill in all the empty spaces for me without it being a conscious decision so I am grateful and I say a prayer every day to say how thankful I am.”
I suggest that she is called to be a potter and that there would be no peace without making pots and she agrees.
I ask Caroline what inspires her and how she would describe herself. She answers, “I’m a practical potter. I love the materials, the physical side of it, I like working with the clay it opens my mind. So I don’t sit down and draw a design or make out a recipe for a glaze, it’ll come to me while I’m working. The glazes are inspired by the customers and reflect what they like. I don’t make beautiful pottery I make lumpy bumpy country pottery for people to use. It’s tough but if it gets broken I hope you enjoyed using it while you had it.” I interrupt Caroline to say that those handmade qualities are precisely the reasons that I think her pottery is beautiful.
Caroline explains how she has a deep sense of unexpected blessings in her life – unasked for opportunities which have been offered to her and which she has said yes to. “Yes, I have this feeling that you can’t actually organise your life. I think things happen and you either decide to go along with it or you don’t, you make a choice. I’m happy in my own company, a solitary person yet perfectly sociable. I don’t need a radio.”
As we talk visitors and locals process in to chat, choose and buy Caroline’s pottery.
Caroline Seaton’s life at the Amberley Pottery provides a constant, a point of stability at the heart of our community. The beauty of her handmade decorative and domestic pottery connects us to this outward facing, generous, practical potter whose work enriches our daily lives by its use.
The Amberley Pottery is open on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11.00am to 3.00pm. To find out more visit www.amberleypottery.co.uk