About Tim Hurn
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"The pots, which ‘speak’ to me, are those that tell a story of the extreme conditions endured by wares in the very heart of the kiln, the firebox. "
I was born in Moseley, Birmingham in 1964 and gained a B.A. Honours degree in Ceramics and 3D Design Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in 1987. While I was studying ceramics I used to collect shards of German and English salt glaze ceramics from the banks of the River Thames.
Handles, rims, lips, feet and necks of bottles all described part of the making and firing processes involved. This is what initially drew me to salt glaze and later to wood firing. For me there is a fine line between the pot which is waster, and the one which has integral beauty. Wood firing, with its relatively unpredictable nature, often presents me with this dilemma. The pots, which ‘speak’ to me, are those that tell a story of the extreme conditions endured by wares in the very heart of the kiln, the firebox. These pots illustrate the near destructive effects of salt and ‘fly ash’, the ferocity of the kiln’s draught and the distortion of form produced by temperatures in excess of 1300C.
From 1987 – 1988 I built and fired my first wood fired kiln in Chislehurst Kent and in 1988 took part in the International workshop of ceramic Art in Tokoname, Japan; one of the seven ancient kiln sites of the islands. While I was there I helped build and fire many different types of wood firing kilns and was inspired to build the ‘Anagama’ kiln that I use today. Anagama literally means ‘hole in the ground. From 1989 – 1991 I was apprenticed to John Leach at the Muchelney Pottery in Somerset and in 1992 moved to Bettiscombe, Dorset, where I built my own ‘Anagama’ kiln and established a workshop.
Here pots are placed on seashells or wads of clay to prevent them fusing together. Interesting scars are formed where they touch. On some pots I use simple wood ash or shino glazes but most are left to the effects of firing. It normally takes me three days to place the pots in the kiln, while packing the kiln I try to predict and control the path of the flame. Over a period of two days and nights up to four tons of wood is stoked into the firebox. A top temperature of 1300 degrees is maintained for about eighteen hours. During this time salt is introduced and there is a constant ‘rustling’ of the firebox to stir up the ashes and send them melting onto the pots. Four days later the kiln is cool enough to unload and the pots can tell their story.
In 2000 I was selected for professional membership of The Craftsman Potters association and in 2001 selected for professional membership of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen.