About Ross Emerson and the things he thinks about when making pottery

Ross Emerson with some of his pottery sculpture clocks

About the studio

I built my workshop about 20 years ago. It stands on stilts in an area below our house that feels more like a tropical rain forest, without the heat, and lovingly referred to as the 'mangrove swamp'. Of course, there are no mangroves, only a collection of bamboos and many giant gunnera plants. It is pretty much a swamp or at least an area oozing with wet springs and permanently wet ground. It is surrounded by wildlife: deer,badgers, woodpeckers and slugs. This is my glorious hideaway where I indulge myself in the creation of fanciful, quirky and eccentic pieces of ceramic sculpture.

Welcome to my world. Here's a little bit about myself and how I came to be making mad clocks.

I trained at Loughborough College of Art with a further training in thrown pottery at Dartington in Devon. The following decade saw a fruitless attempt to start up and run my own pottery followed by several years of retraining and working as a carpenter and joiner. I came back to ceramics and started making clocks over 20 years ago, firstly just as an imitation of many of the fabulous antique mantle clocks that have always been of keen interest to me. However, imitation soon led to caricature and pastiche and an increased awareness of the many creative possibilities yet to plumb.

I work with a red earthenware clay to hand-build a whole range of ceramic pieces, both sculptural and functional. Clocks form the main bulk of my work although I make candalabra, candlesticks ,2D vases, dishes and anything that I feel is a little bit different.

All my work has to be a pleasure to make and hopefully conveys that sense of fun as a finished piece. They are about nothing in particular and everything that interests me at the same time. Don't look for deep and meaningful although you may find it if you know how to make sense of fantasy. There are certainly surrealist echoes of Dali, Echer and even Heironymous Boche. Perhaps Lewis Carrol is there too. I use themes such as trompe l'oei and distorted perspective to deceive the eye and create illusions. Into the mix I add visual metaphors and non-sequiturs and use plenty of colour, partly as decoration and partly as painting in it's own right, but all adding to the visual richness of the final piece.

I don't use moulds and every bit is modelled or built from scatch, so no two finished pieces are ever the same. When you buy a ceramic clock or sculpture from me, you buy the genuine article: original and unique.

As my work has evolved, new shapes and ideas take over; old designs being rested and often revisited later with a new eye. One unexpected source of inspiration can come from private commissions. A client’s wish to have a particular theme included in a clock can lead to new and fruitful directions and become the starting point for a new design altogether (see Susie’s clock ).

If you would like to contact me regarding a commission please go to the contacts page and read this page for more information about  commissioning a new piece of pottery or clay sculpture.

Ross Emerson's pottery studio in the gorge at the bottom of his garden.

Me in my workshop at the end of the garden.Me in my workshop at the end of the garden.


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