Our #Liveinit series over on Instagram is a chance for us to shine the spotlight some amazing, inspirational women, all doing creative things to keep you entertained, all wearing Beyond Nine. Over the years we're always amazed at the things you all get up to in our clothes. From yoga, to cross country skiing to gardening and pottery, the list goes on. I met Fi Underhill when I was on a weekend away in Frome, Somerset. Fi has a beautiful ceramic studio and shop there called Ground. She makes incredible pieces which I fell in love with. Pottery is a passion of mine and a hobby I would love to take up if I had more time! When I found our Fi also owned a Poppy I knew we needed to collaborate in some way. We caught up with Fi to find our more about her career.
To watch Fi in action, head over to our Instagram.
Tell us a bit about yourself and GROUND
I am a potter and artist working from a small studio/shop in Frome, Somerset. I have been making pots for the past ten years and, having completed an MA in Ceramics at the beginning of 2020, was trying to decide what my next move would be. I was working from a beautiful but freezing cold studio in a village near where I live in Frome and decided a warmer studio closer to home was necessary! The seed for GROUND was planted when I started looking for a new space and I happened to mention it to my friend who, in turn, told me he was moving his shop across the road. ‘Take this space!,’ He said, ‘Open a shop with your studio attached!’ It seemed like a crazy idea at first but over time it started to increasingly make sense, so I did it! And I’m so glad I did.
GROUND is a small, light and airy space where I throw, glaze, fire and sell all of my work. It is situated at the top of Catherine Hill, amidst Frome’s independent shops selling everything from plants to vintage to handmade clothes. Many of the shopkeepers are friends and its a great community to be a part of. I feel so lucky to have this place to work in.
How did you get started in pottery?
I started working with clay in 2012 as an apprentice at North Street Potters, a collective of potters in South London. I worked alongside a collective of strong, talented and generous women who shared their knowledge and skills openly and taught me to throw. I would process clay, prepare glazes and pack kilns in exchange for time to practise, fail and grow as a potter. Everyone there has a unique, distinctive approach to making so it was a thoroughly enriching introduction to the medium and I look back on it now with huge gratitude. I then went on to work as a production potter at Selborne Pottery for a few years, honing my skills in repetition throwing, making up to 100 bowls a day (this was a personal best!). My time here was equally life-shaping as, though I loved the flow-state generated by repetition throwing, it prompted me to wonder about ways in which I could approach clay with greater freedom and curiosity and led me to apply for an MA in ceramics at Bath School of Art and Design.
What’s your favourite piece you’ve ever made? And did you keep it?
My favourite piece was a peach glazed bowl I made last year, there was just something about it! I did eventually sell it, just as I was about to take it off the shelf and keep it! But I know it went to a home where it was cherished and the couple who bought it know that it was a favourite of mine, there’s something lovely about that.
Do you have any tips for people looking to get started in pottery?
Find a potter and ask if they need any help! They usually do and it’s a great way to learn as there are so many layers to being a potter, it’s tricky to learn from a book. Experience is key.
Having said that, the great thing about clay is its tactility, the only tools you need to explore initially are your hands! so buying a bag (or digging some form the ground!) and just making and seeing where it takes you is also a great approach too. There are loads of great ways to make a pot that don’t involved a wheel or many specialist tools (kurinuki, coiling, pinching) and it is fun to play and see what happens.
Tell us what you like most about your Beyond Nine pieces?
They are so comfortable and practical whilst looking great! It’s really rare to find clothes that are good for making in but work as everyday, non-work outfits too. Beyond Nine pieces are so versatile, there is clearly a lot of thought behind each piece- I’d like one of everything in my wardrobe!