Meet the Artist, Helen White

My focus is on the landscape and I am inspired by the vast variety of geological character of our country. Craggy limestone escarpments, granite tors, millstone grit outcrops and glacial cut valleys are just a few examples of the dramatic features that shape our countryside.

In particular I put the elements of an area, natural and man-made, into their bigger context as an explanation of why things are as they are around us. I like to show how people have interacted with the landscapes into what we see today. My interest in the countryside and its geography has inspired me to find a way to share my love of the natural environment through my art.

The images for the mugs are created by lino cuts taken from my sketches of prominent features and familiar landscapes. When working on a idea we spend time researching images and information on an area. We travel around the country to find out about the landscapes that we are focusing on. We spend time walking and staying and getting the feel of the place and what makes it special. I look at the geological elements to find dramatic and interesting landscapes and then read up on its historical and cultural significance and sketch ideas.

I then transfer my mug sketches to a piece of lino which I cut into a relief print surface using a scapel. Taking the first print is always an exciting moment. The sharp scalpel cuts add a clarity to the lines of the image – simplifying and decluttering it. Lines, texture and patterns emerge and colour blocks add mood and shape. The results create a rather retro feel to the images reflecting a genre of past ceramic design.

Our mugs are made in Stoke, where my artwork is placed in the hands of talented ceramic printers and decorators. There they undergo the alchemy of ceramic colour creation of our unique palette, followed by screen printed transfer production and then the application firing which fix my images as glazes to the mug surfaces. This includes a layer of hardiness to the finish so that a mug will continue to provide memories through many years to come.

Art for everyday

I think of the clean ivory surface of the fine bone china mugs as a blank canvas for my artwork. I love the thought that I am creating something that is to be used; something very tangible, to be held and enjoyed. I can make individual, thoughtful artwork available to more people through a medium that is very much central to the ‘everyday”. Picking up a mug for a daily tea or coffee break, with an image from a past holiday, adventure or challenge seems a very successful way to achieve this.