On a recent visit to Fire & Earth at Rufford Park, near Nottingham, we had the pleasure of meeting James Faulkner and seeing his work. For us it was the highlight of the show and we were fortunate enough to walk away with a few pieces for the gallery.

We are hoping to build a long relationship with James, such is his skill and willingness to push boundaries. This is not limited to his work either, there is a lengthy back story, one with the fabulous elements of humour in the face of adversity that we just love!

"Made in stoneware, I use both throwing, thrown and altered, slab building and carving techniques to produce my designs. Layers of slips and oxides are built up over an object, over time, before I erode the surface using my erode slip technique which I began development on during my time at university. I often erode pieces down through the slip and into the clay body, to create the complex textured surfaces synonymous with my work."

James' words:

'6 April 1970 - As long as bloody possible.

Having left school at 16 years old I spent a relatively fruitless two years on a YTS learning to be a graphic designer. I wanted to be an illustrator but was turned down for college. Dissatisfaction though eventually saw me put my sketchbook away and I went on to have a number of various jobs before joining the RAF in 1991 at the age of 21 and I went on to serve more than 16 years. During which time, as well as living overseas, I served in operational theatres in Iraq and Afghanistan and lived overseas in Germany and Gibraltar. In all I enjoyed a busy active and eventful career.

However in 2004 and completely out of the blue I had a huge seizure, so powerful it fractured my spine in three places and dislocated both shoulders. In one foul swoop I ended up with permanent damage to my back and shoulders and as it turned out; a brain tumour, which isn't generally conducive to a life in the military. I spent the next year lying still a lot and wondering what to do with myself and waiting to find out what would happen. So I picked up my sketchbook again.

I underwent surgery to partially remove the tumour in 2005, and whilst recovering I began to plant the seeds of a return to education and chose to move after being  medically discharged in 2007 to Lincoln so that I was near to my Son but also near to Lincoln college of Art & Design. It was during this period that during a field trip to London I found myself on a free day visiting the British Museum where there was an exhibit of Japanese Crafts. Seeing the beautiful works on display ceramics was a defining moment for me and I returned to college and picked up some mud! Which may not have been the most sensible choice, what with my buggered bones and rotten brain that had left me with fatigue problems, constant pain, epilepsy and vertigo and an inability to lift heavy objects or even bend over properly. The life of an illustrator or other sketch artist may have been a more sensible idea but when did sensible ever fit into want or need, and I'm very very determined. I made a decision right from the outset though that although I liked the Anglo/Oriental ceramic tradition I wouldn't consciously follow a particular ceramic tradition and would follow my own path, wherever it may lead. 

Having graduated from Lincoln with a double distinction and a student of the year award. I went off to Loughborough School Of The Arts to study for a BaHons in 3d design. and with a 400 mile per week commute; fighting fatigue and pain all the way to graduate in 2011; with a 2:1 (sorry no first, boo)! But also with a clearer idea of where I wanted to go, and I'm going.

I had begun setting up my studio at home in my second year at uni so I could work from home if the fatigue became an issue and so was ready to get going after uni and began (after a rest) to make work straight away. 

Since then I've been quietly working away, developing my skills and techniques and exhibiting at galleries and selling vents and hoping to raise my profile, or even get one. But I was selected as a finalist for the European Prize for applied Arts in 2012 which helped vindicate my ideas and really boosted my confidence and 

It turns out though that doing all this wasn't enough so I (we) decided to have a baby. I think that's probably enough for now.

 I've recently found out that my tumour is waking up and has grown quite a bit. So I'll be going to have more surgery soon, probably around mid August which will necessitate a bit of time off (four months) to rest and recover before I can begin working on the ideas in my head and the ones I already have on paper.'

 All of this explains exactly why we wanted to work with him! Inspirational? We think so and more than that, he is an immensely talented ceramicist, working with new processes to produce stunning items that retain utility and look perfect in any home. He jumps into our top ten 'Ones to Watch'!