10 Questions: Sunken Studio

Next up, in our regular 10 Questions series! We caught up with Rebecca Catterall, the brains behind the successful ceramic workshop, Sunken Studio.

Rebecca has taken Leeds by storm, bringing taster classes, specialist workshops and collaborations with local creatives... getting us all excited about all things clay, slips and glazes!

What do you do?

I run an independent ceramics studio. I host workshops for adults from the studio and at venues regionally and in the North. I work in schools exploring clay with kids of all ages. When I’m not facilitating making, I make things. 

This is my second incarnation as a ceramist: I used to make one-off sculptural pieces that I exhibited nationally and internationally. I haven’t forgotten about that past but can’t quite make it fit with what I’m doing at the moment. There are lots of similarities though. I like constructing complex forms made from lots of pieces and I now try to fit disparate pieces together in an attempt to make the studio sustainable.

What are you typically doing every day at 9am?

I work most evenings and weekends & tend to finish late, sometimes in the early hours. At 9 am I may be getting pawed in the face by a Schnauzer or having breakfast and a cup of tea.

What makes your job easier?

The current studio is also home. My commute is less than a minute so I can be productive most of the day. Timing is key with clay, I can do my prep and check if it’s at the right consistency whenever I like and without leaving the house. I can hop between admin, planning, life and making easily.

What makes your job harder?

The current studio is also home. It creeps into every space and it’s difficult to allow myself full days off and holidays. There’s always something I could be doing to catch up or get organised. Mostly I don’t mind these things but having to keep the house and studio presentable for clients can deflect attention away from more pressing matters.

Dream job title?

I don’t really think in job titles. I’m more concerned that what I’m doing is challenging, affords some autonomy and is worthwhile. I like solving problems, plotting and planning. If that’s married with something varied and involves something practical that’s pretty dreamy. I think I’m onto a pretty good deal at the moment.

What is the most overused word in your workday?

Problematic. It’s a guarded/polite way of describing all sorts of issues - mild annoyances, frustrations, dislikes. It works for a lot of things!

What misconceptions do you encounter working in your field?

That it’s soft and woolly and lacks substance.

Any advice for those who want to do what you do?

Don’t let anyone underestimate you. Work to defy expectations in whatever you do and you’ll be alright. I think we all have a tendency to focus on the barriers: some you’ll have to work harder to work around than others.

What’s your career high point?

I’m still working on that. I’ll have to get back to you in a couple of years. I’m certainly trying to use everything I’ve learnt to date to make Sunken Studio a success. I measure success in many ways. There have been many high points - I just think there are more to come. It is exciting. I guess if I can sustain that excitement then that would be my high point/plateau.

What makes your current job different from anything else you have done?

It’s not a role or something to do, it’s something that defines me. Clay and making have been part of my life for over 28 years. I know what I’m like without it. At the moment decisions are very much led by how I might involve other people and responding to feedback and demand. That’s different from the past. Before I was more concerned with my practice and then finding an audience for it. I enjoy being more adaptable and responsive - although it’s clay, it’s still a slow process.

Fancy getting involved or finding our more visit the Sunken Studio site to find out more, and say hello!

Looking for more where that came from? Check out some of our previous 10 Questions series:
Luke Hodson from Awesome Merchandise
Matt Kelly from Plæy Workshop
Becky and Andy from Colours May Vary

Photo Credits, Jo Crawford and Sunken Studio