Folk's Folk: an interview with LA Ceramics
Liam Andrews’ pots are weighty, fragile, rough and glossy. They are stoneware, not porcelain, but there’s an elemental Edmund de Waal minimalism to every vessel that appealed to Folk when they came across them.
Which was when? ‘Last year,’ he tells me, having kindly pulled over on his cycle to the studio this morning to take my call. I can hear the birds of N1 chirruping in the background. As it turns out, Liam goes out with Joanna, who works in the Lambs Conduit Street women’s store. MJ, another alumnae, saw his work, loved it and suggested Folk they sell it in the shop. ‘So they stocked a few pieces, and then Cathal called me up suggesting we do a collaborative collection.’ That was before Christmas: Liam is just finish off glazing the new vessels for this spring. Each is different, and a one-off. ‘These are a little larger than last year’s,’ he says. ‘All stoneware. There’ll be pieces in midnight black, some lighter blues, navy – which is a cornerstone colour for them, and works so well on the ceramics - and some will have just a transparent glaze over the off-white stoneware.’ The latter sounds particularly beautiful.
He got into ceramics in Barcelona back in 2014. ‘I found this beautiful school at El Torn, but then didn’t come back to clay until a couple of years later when I moved to London and came across Turning Earth on Argall Ave up near Walthamstow marshes,’ he says. ‘It’s a huge, amazing old archway that’s now an open studio. You pay a monthly membership, and there are wheels, kiln technicians, glaze-mixers so you can come in and get straight to work... It’s such a well-run space.’
Liam typically spends between 10 and 15 hours a week at the studio. Mornings mostly - in afternoons/evenings he works for the biodynamic wine bottle shop and bar 40 Maltby Street down in Bermondsey. (They’re throwing their legendary annual Spring tasting at the Round Chapel in Clapton next Sunday.) ‘On a Tuesday, I don’t work, so I’ll get up early and go throw the pots. Thursday, I turn and trim, then bisque fire, then re-fire, and then glaze.. It’s a long process, and physical.. at the end of the day you feel like you’ve been working your whole body. I like how with the wet clay shapes shift slightly, change organically. What’s been really wonderful about this collection is how they’ve been really free – the pots are so tactile, we’ve let them evolve,’ he says.
Does he ever wonder what happens to the vessels once they leave the kiln, disperse and continue their life in other people’s houses? ‘A bit. Funnily enough, a friend who lives outside Sydney called to tell me he’d bought one from Folk’s website, so that travelled back to Australia. And actually, Jo was saying the other day that Benedict Cumberbatch was buying some clothing from the store and just as he was walking up to the till to pay he picked up one of my vessels... so I guess that’s where one went!’. The guy’s got taste.
The vessels are currently available at all Folk stores with online following shortly.
Photography by Mia Portet
Direction: Adam Warren
Words by Charlotte Brook