Tibetan monks, sea swims and Tom Raffield photoshoot props. We catch up with local Cornish ceramicist, Jake Boex, to find out how a love of nature has influenced his growing pottery business.
Inspired by the wild, rugged beauty of the Cornish coastline that surrounds his pottery studio, Jake Boex shapes, throws and bisque fires his collection of unique ceramics.
Pro-surfer come science teacher; Jake can now be found in his pottery studio forging his way as a renown ceramicist. Having been fans of Jake’s work for a long time we were delighted to recently use some of his pieces in our annual summer photoshoot. We caught up with Jake as part of our #tenwithtom campaign to learn more about his creative journey so far and how nature inspires his work…
TR: What inspired the idea of setting up your business?
JB: I have loved making things since I was little, or perhaps it began with taking things apart?! There is something enigmatic amount the process of releasing a material to feel its destination, to shape its form and in a moment make something new, something fresh. It was from this, I suppose, that I found a desire to shape a business that supports my love of making.
TR: What did you do before setting up your pottery studio?
JB: I was in Nepal teaching science to young monks in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery called Kopan.
TR: What is the ethos behind your business?
JB: Ethos? Looking up the term… ‘characteristic spirit of a culture’. Still less clear. Ahh this is it, the beauty arising from the space between. The 'gap' as one of my mediation teachers calls it.
There can be a horizontal gap, a moment when there are no thoughts - the sunset or magic moment in life - or there can be a vertical gap; the awareness of passing thoughts, feelings and emotions. For me these are fleeting moments, even so, they inspire me to make, to recreate this place of mind. I try to reflect these moments of tranquillity through objects.
TR: Describe your work process…
JB: I make moment by moment, or try to. Too much planning prior to creating new designs proves to be problematic as too much pushing causes wastage of clay and pots collapsing on the wheel. Needless to say that lazing around and being too relaxed about the process gets little done! So there is a point between, an engaged doing without too much effort. Flow, perhaps.
TR: What sort of space do you work in?
JB: It's a small studio, previously a wooden garage. It’s served me well over the years. It's a cosy, well lit space in the winter and a light, airy and cool hideaway in the summer months.
TR: Do you have a design background, or are you self-taught?
JB: I studied art at A-Level and I love it as it came naturally. Somehow I followed a career in science, studied geology and later climate science. At first glance art and science can seem unrelated but I've managed to combine my two passions. My ‘cup by the sea’ is a great example of this. I collect crushed rock from the famous rocking surfing reef here at Porthleven and form it to the outside of a pure porcelain coffee cup. The different rock minerals produce different effects, it's a beautiful, experimental process.
TR: Has your work evolved since you began?
JB: I think so. I've certainly learnt a lot. I’ve recently been experimenting with a different aesthetic all together - I guess you could say I've come full circle. My work has evolved, changed, but has perhaps not evolved in the sense of reaching a destination. There's still more to experiment with.
TR: Where do you find creative inspiration?
JB: Space. When I feel spacious, creative ideas spring to mind. I can feel spacious in the sea.
TR: What are the highs and lows of working an independent maker?
JB: Lows are the highs, or at least close to the highs. One seems to follow the other... I think that I like it all. I would say that on occasions it can be hard to switch down a gear, to take a break because I love what I do. It’s the nature of getting involved in a project, and running your own business is a big project.
TR: How did you first discover your love for what you do?
JB: Great teachers at school, Mr Armistead, and later Mr Cockfield. Both art teachers, but actually potters. Perhaps that’s an error to give it a title...is pottery art…what is art?…that’s where it began.
TR: Describe your working day…
JB: I wake up and do a little yoga/meditation to stretch my mind and my body, I'll then eat breakfast and head to the studio. Upon arrival I'll pull up my order list for the day and start to prioritise my workload. I get quite a lot of gallery requests so i'll spend time planning and liaising on projects. So then the day flows. I try to finish with a sea swim to wash away the clay.
TR: What do the next six months hold for you?
JB: I am off to India and Nepal soon, I am going to learn more about stillness and perhaps what it reveals. I'm excited to see where the next year takes me, there's lots of exciting things ahead.