Pottery and Zen at Higham – a reflection by Student Claire Brooks

Pottery and Zen at Higham by Claire Brooks

The new Raku Pottery Workshop at Higham was a hot hit in February, as students Raku-fired by hand the pots they had made and glazed under tutor Chris Barnes. The 4.5 day course started with an introduction to Raku, exploring its philosophical roots in Zen Buddhism and its importance in Japanese art and culture for over 500 years.

After a demonstration of simple techniques from Chris, students quickly got hands on, creating Raku tea bowls. Students built up their skills over 2 days, with patient guidance from their tutor, and managed to produce over a dozen beautiful items each, even though most were beginners.

Firing day was spent on a guided tour of the extensive craft ceramics on display at Blackwell, a gem of an Arts and Crafts house overlooking Windermere.

On the last day and a half, students were taught how to achieve different effects with glazes and pigments prior to Raku-firing in the courtyard. The hot pots were unloaded from the kiln with long tongs and dunked into bins full of straw. The burning that takes place as the pots cool results in charring and smoking which gives the Raku ware its distinctive quality.

Course Tutor Chris Barnes, trained at St Martin’s School of Art and has created Stoneware and Raku pieces in Scotland and Cumbria for 25 years, which are widely exhibited and sold. http://highamhall.com/organiser/chris-barnes/

Claire Brooks attended the Feb 2019 course with Chris at Higham. Thanks to her for this enlightening write-up. Enjoy the photos!