Long-running Aylesbury pottery festival returns promising masterclasses and workshops

The festival is nearing its 50th anniversary

By James Lowson
Monday, 21st March 2022, 9:57 am
Updated Monday, 21st March 2022, 10:00 am

Aylesbury's long-running pottery festival returns next month the event has been a staple of Bucks culture for over 40 years.

Queens Park Arts Centre (QPAC) is a celebration of all things ceramic this spring, with a special festival of pottery spanning brand-new workshops, masterclasses, and a free exhibition.

Running from 25 April to 18 May, the QPAC Pottery Festival includes opportunities for both complete beginners and practiced hands alike to discover and explore creating art with clay,

Chris and Freya Bramble will be running a workshop during the festival

A series of special activities are joining the year-round programme of pottery workshops on offer at Queens Park.

The centrepiece of the festival is a masterclass from father-and-daughter ceramic artists Chris and Freya Bramble.

Taking place on Saturday 14 May, this informative talk offers a fascinating insight into their working methods, with plenty of hints and tips for potters of all levels of experience.

The pair will also be exhibiting their work in free to view exhibitions all throughout the month long festival.

A workshop from a previous year's event

“We’re delighted to be welcoming Chris and Freya for this fascinating talk,” says QPAC’s artistic director Sarah Lewis.

“It’s a welcome return for Chris, who first led masterclasses at the Centre back in the 1990s. We can’t wait to see him again and are also looking forward to meeting Freya.

"I know her incredible artwork is sure to inspire our creative community.”

QPAC opened in 1980 and since its very first year, pottery has been at the heart of its workshop programme.

Raku firing

With two fully equipped studios and a dedicated technician, local ceramic artist Charlie Butters, the department welcomes hundreds of students every year and sees thousands of unique works of art created on site.

“Our pottery department offers a perfect microcosm of what QPAC has to offer the local community,” says Sarah.

“Everyone, regardless of previous experience, has access to the same high-quality resources and materials, learning from experienced and friendly tutors, many of whom volunteer their time and talent to run classes.”

“We’re proud to welcome those kick-starting their creativity for the first time alongside experienced artists with decades of experience.

A regular creative activity can be vital for people’s wellbeing, and our drop-in classes enable us to provide arts for all in Buckinghamshire and beyond throughout the year.”

QPAC offers a wide range of classes for all ages, including after-school sessions for children and teens, weekly drop-in workshops for adults, and a regular class for disabled students.

A selection of one-day and three-week courses are also ran, every year, with two special sessions lined up as part of the festival.

Having appeared alongside Freya in the second series of The Great Pottery Throwdown, Elaine Wells will be leading a special class on Sunday 15 May teaching students how to make basic ceramic tiles and then decorate them with colourful slip.

On the same day local artists Helen Neighbour and Adam Hoyle (who exhibited their work at QPAC as part of Bucks Arts Weeks in 2021) will be leading a session exploring the unpredictable raku firing process, which can create some spectacular, and potentially explosive results.

“Having curtailed our 40th Anniversary festivities in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, it’s heartening to be able to run this celebratory event championing one of the

departments at the heart of QPAC’s creative programme,” says Sarah.

“With more people than ever interested in ceramics, thanks in no small part to the success of The Great British Throwdown, this festival is a wonderful opportunity to encourage new faces to try the artform out for themselves.”

The QPAC Pottery Festival runs at Queens Park Arts Centre in Aylesbury from 25 April to 18 May.

Further information on ticketing, organising booksings and individual events at the festival can be found on its website here.