Shropshire Star

Wellington artist's clay figures are inspired by nature

As a figurative artist, Sharon Griffin draws inspiration from woodlands, folklore and her own imagination and emotions.

Figurative artist Sharon Griffin, who lives in Wellington, Telford

She specialises in exploring the human form in clay to create 3D ceramic sculptures in her pottery workshop in Wellington.

Not only does the natural environment fuel her creativity but is also provides her with materials to use in her work as Sharon forages for wild clay and oxides to add colour to her pieces.

"I've been into clay ever since I can remember. I have an ADHD brain so I get distracted very easily and need to do things through touch. That keeps me grounded and able to function.

"I go into the woods with my dog Pepper and I feel better because of the holistic experience of being in the woods.

"I dig up clay and it's very grounding. I play with the clay and I'm using the ground to ground me.

"I can work through all of my emotions. Everything goes into my sculpture and because it's a physical object I can look at it and reflect on it. And when it's done I feel better," she explains.

Sharon studied ceramics and glass at the University of Wolverhampton and worked as lecturer of art and design at Telford College of Arts & Technology before becoming a full-time artist in 2014.

Since then, her work has been widely exhibited in the UK and can be found in private and public collections.

She now also overseas and manages a community pottery workshop based at the The Belfrey Arts Centre in Princes Street, Wellington.

"Eleven years ago I had a very traumatic experience and that was a catalyst for focussing on my work and my mental health. I turned to clay and set up a community pottery welcoming lots of people and it's grown since then.

"It's all about mental health and wellbeing and what we can do for ourselves," Sharon tells Weekend.

Sharon outside her pottery studio in Wellington

Her current work focuses on the human form as a way of exploring ideas, feelings, emotions, stories and her connection with Telford as well as its natural sites such as Lime Kiln Wood at the base of the Wrekin.

"I use notebooks to brain dump and get thoughts out of my head. I capture ideas, research, little facts and stories and dreams. I'm fascinated by folklore and the stories people tell each other.

"I'm also really quite interested in psychology and how thoughts become part of our bodies and how it affects us physiologically," explains Sharon.

Her notes will inspire work and although she says she can spend a long time thinking about a piece, once she starts handling the clay, the finished sculpture can come together very quickly.

It's then left to dry, which can take weeks for large pieces, and before it's fired in the kiln, oxides, slips - liquified clay - and glazes are ‘drawn’ into the surface.

This creates a textured, multi-layered work of art which can be highly emotive.

Her figures, which include many inspired by the folklore of woodland fauns, can be uplifting, joyful and sometimes slightly unnerving.

"I like that they can be a bit uneasy. I don't want them to be still or ornamental or happy. I want them to be 'warts and all' because that's the human experience. We can't be happy all the time, just as we can't be sad all the time," explains Sharon.

Sharon forages for wild clay and oxides to use in her work

Earlier this month, the ceramicist was one of a group of eight artists and makers who created The Tangible Project for London Craft Week.

Through their different skills and artistry they promoted the inherent value of the handmade in art and design and shared their passion to connect through our hands and touch.

"Sixty percent of the way we communicate is after all not by language but by touch, expression and experience - it’s where magic happens," says Sharon.

"My mission is to get more people involved in clay and tangible art because otherwise we are going to lose those skills and that haptic knowledge," she adds.

Sharon says she will never tire of working with clay on a daily basis and creating art because of the endless opportunities it provides.

"I think the one thing I enjoy most about making sculpture is that it is so diverse. You can make tiny little things and you can things on a great, big scale - and you can make them out of anything.

"It's freeing and it's a way of expressing yourself that's fast. It's how I found my voice and how I express my feelings and how I make sense of myself and the world around me," she tells Weekend.

Sharon will be exhibiting at Potfest By the Lake at Compton Verney from June 23-25 and at Twenty Twenty Gallery's outdoor exhibition at Wildegoose Nursery, The Walled Garden, Lower Millichope, Munslow from September 15-17.

*To see more examples of Sharon's work, visit and for information about workshops at The Pottery see

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