CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Derbyshire Life today CLICK HERE

Peak District-based ceramic artist Rosalind Smith

PUBLISHED: 09:00 13 June 2014

Ros Smith

Ros Smith

as submitted

Janet Reeder meets Rosalind Smith who has embraced a new and rewarding career as a ceramic artist

Ros SmithRos Smith

Many people dream of a change of career in mid-life but few get the chance to make it a reality. However the same can’t be said for Peak District-based Rosalind Smith who is carving out a career as one of the most exciting art potters in the UK.

Former model Ros has swapped the catwalk for the potter’s wheel after what can only be described as a fateful encounter with one of the most elusive and respected ceramicists working today Geoff Fuller – and it all happened by accident just a few years ago.

‘Pottery was something I had never even thought about I suppose,’ admits Ros who lives with husband Paddy in a stunning 18th century farm in Peak Forest. ‘I started taking it seriously when I saw Geoff’s pots. He and his wife Pat have a pub called the Three Stags’ Heads in Wardlow Mires with their studio attached to it and that’s where I first saw his work.

‘I was so smitten by it that they asked if I fancied having a go. On reflection they are quite open to people they take a liking to going into their pottery but at the time it was a private side of their life I didn’t want to invade. They asked three or four times and I finally plucked up the courage to say yes.

Ros SmithRos Smith

‘And I remember it well. I was quite nervous because I didn’t really know what to expect. I sort of crept in, made coffees and watched and then Pat put me on her momentum wheel and with a little bit of her help I did throw a cylinder, which I still have now as my utensil jar at home.’

From that moment on, Ros was hooked. She discovered a talent she never knew she had. After school she had ‘drifted into catering college’ and adored cooking, which she says is a kind of art. Once her children were a little older, Ros retrained as a chiropodist and ran her own private clinic for 15 years. A horse riding accident led to early retirement, but with time on her hands Ros was itching for a new career. ‘Working with clay has become both an obsession and a passion,’ she says.

‘And having somebody like Geoff to guide and mentor me is like a budding golfer having Tiger Woods by your side. I am so privileged and so lucky.

‘I suppose it happened very quickly from then on. I spent a few afternoons with Geoff just watching him work and then one day I went in and Geoff said “Come over here”. He gave me a board and a lump of clay. I’d no idea what were going to do but Pat sat down and watched and said, “Oh – I think he’s going to show you how to make a whippet” which he did. He just stuck a pencil into a piece of clay and said “open it out” – at first I wondered what he was talking about but I followed him and kept up with him for the whole exercise which took about 20 minutes (it was about keeping up really).

Ros SmithRos Smith

I was both surprised and pleased with the result but couldn’t help fiddling with the finished work. In the end Geoff just picked up the board in front of me and walked out of the room and that was his lesson to me – leave it.’

‘I hear potters citing many sources for their inspiration and I know a lot of them are inspired by their environment. I feel very lucky to have all this around me and work where I do, but I just love early English Earthenware because, let’s face it, few of us are ever going to own any early pieces because most are in museums but their beauty and simplicity is still relevant today. I like the results I get from using those traditional basic techniques, slips and glazes. Simple shapes and earthy colours are an important part of my work but whether that comes from the landscape or not, I’m not sure.’

Nor does Ros she wish she had started earlier in life – before boarding school in Africa, children, two marriages and a whole load of adventures.

‘I am glad I didn’t go to art college – my relationship with Geoff has allowed me to concentrate on the work I want to create, without any distractions. It certainly hasn’t been a traditional education but Geoff is a fantastic teacher, and even though Geoff’s work is naive, he still strives for perfection.

‘I’ll ask him a question and he won’t say anything but some time later he will come in with a book for me to borrow, or show me a piece from his collection of pots. If I look hard enough I can usually find the answer to my question.

‘Creating one of my figurative pieces is a really time consuming process, and that is why I think very few potters are prepared to create work the way I do. Every piece of my art is different and can take many weeks to complete – cracks and damage during making or firing happen frequently, but I think this fragility during the making process adds greatly to their beauty and value as art.’

‘Someone once asked me if I’d ever had any life changing experiences. I told him, “I’ve been having life changing experiences ever since I was tiny.”’

More from Out & About

A ten-minute drive from the western edge of Sheffield brings thrill-seekers to a Derbyshire valley where outdoor activities are thriving.

Read more

Andrew Griffiths meets Jim Dixon, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Peak District National Park.

Read more

This walk offers a dance with the Dove and a meander by the Manifold, whilst along the way passing a church, castle remains, country houses and a hollow way

Read more

With winter on the horizon, trees glow with colour, migratory birds arrive and house spiders set off in search of a mate

Read more

Ann Hodgkin investigates a case of the sincerest form of flattery… or industrial espionage!

Read more

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s vision is of landscapes rich in wildlife, valued by everyone. They will achieve this 
by pursuing their mission of creating Living Landscapes. Here Julia Gow, the White Peak Reserve Officer at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust tells us about the reserve above the River Wye

Read more

Nigel Powlson visits Sudbury where a shopping courtyard is attracting even more visitors to this quintessential English village

Read more

If you’re walking in the Peak District, the chances are that you could encounter a reservoir at some point during your ramble. There are dozens of resevoirs dotted around all corners of the national park, we pick some of our favourite walks from our archive.

Read more
Peak District

A five-year Heritage Lottery-funded scheme, launched in 2010, was designed to encourage the restoration and conservation of the distinctive landscape character of a large area of north-east Derbyshire.

Read more

Enjoy the wonder of woodland in our glorious Derwent Valley on this park and ride special.

Read more

Paul Hobson reveals some of the fascinating wildlife there is to be found in this month of transition

Read more

From far away constellations to gas clouds, our night skies are bursting with natural wonders – if you know where to look... Viv Micklefield goes stargazing in Derbyshire

Read more

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust works across six Living Landscapes with 46 nature reserves to ensure there is wildlife and wild places for everyone. Reserve officer Sam Willis tells us about one of his favourite places – Ladybower Wood Nature Reserve

Read more

A multi-million pound makeover attracts more leading brands to one of the UK’s biggest shopping destinations

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Topics of Interest

Local Business Directory

Property Search