Harry (Potter!), Hannah Tounsend and How to Get Away with Murder
Fiona Shannon graduated from the Ulster University Belfast in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Contemporary Applied Art specialising in Ceramics.
She went on to develop her knowledge and expertise further when selected with 15 others from across Europe for the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland’s Ceramics Skills and Design Course graduating in 2016.
She said: “I took the leap and set up my studio in Portstewart in 2016, and from there produce my handmade functional ceramics range which includes dinnerware. I love the idea of creating art that people can use in their daily lives, taking enjoyment from my pieces as they have a cup of tea or serve a platter.
“I have exhibited in several galleries throughout Ireland including the National Craft Gallery Kilkenny, The Cowshed Gallery Phoenix Park Dublin, The Blue Egg Gallery Wexford and exhibited internationally at the International Ceramics Expo, Liling, China. Before lockdown,
I was based in Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart and very much enjoyed teaching pottery skills on courses there.”
Q. What is your favourite song/album?
A. It’s hard to pick one song. I have music on all the time in the background in the studio and I like an eclectic mix. Often I just listen to the radio but I like listening to podcasts too, normally business, entrepreneurial and mindset podcasts.
Q. What is your favourite film?
A. It’s hard to beat the Harry Potter films. The books and films are so captivating and spell binding especially when they were initially released when I was younger.
On TV I have been enjoying The Great Pottery Throwndown. It’s a great programme for giving people an insight into the world of ceramics and the trials and tribulations along the way!
It’s full of ups and downs as I’m sure you will have seen from Keith’s (one of the judges) tendency to shed a tear or two! It’s great fun and exciting to see the different interpretations of the challenges.
Q. Who is your favourite artist?
A. My favourite ceramic artist is Hannah Tounsend. She combines techniques of throwing on the pottery wheel and slip casting (pouring liquid clay into plaster moulds to create forms) which is extremely innovative.
My favourite piece of artwork would have to be one of Hannah’s large “Elliptoid” vessels. I just love the scale of her work. Her use of monochrome colours transforms the clay into being not just a vessel but her canvas, and the refinement of each piece is a true reflection of her skill and expertise in her field.
Q. What is your most special moment in the arts and why?
A. My most special moment in my arts career to date has definitely been my first international exhibition in China in 2019. It was an amazing achievement for
me to step onto the International Ceramics Stage. I had been working hard for the past couple of years in a studio at my parents’ house which was where I started my business and to evolve to be able to showcase my work internationally was a proud moment and milestone for me.
Q. What have you been revisiting during the Coronavirus period?
A. The down time during the lockdown has given me time to revisit and rejig the teaching side of my business.
One of my favourite things to do is to teach pottery classes and before lockdown I taught ceramics in the local Flowerfield Arts Centre, in the community and in local schools. Missing this experience, I’ve used the opportunity to develop my classes online.
I have also recently launched my “Connect with Clay” kits for people to make their own pottery at home with exclusive access to a range of “How-To” videos available on my website for both adults and children.
This has given me a great opportunity to connect with people again, something which I really needed and I’m sure other people did too.
Creativity is so important for both adults and children at all stages in life. It improves creative skills, self-expression, confidence, dexterity and helps reduces stress and anxiety. “Connect with Clay” kits are available on my website www.fionashannonceramics.com.
I’ve been enjoying having the time to get outdoors more than I normally would. I feel very lucky to be living on the North Coast the past year and have taken the time to walk and admire our wonderful scenery that has given me so much inspiration for my work.
I watched “How to get away with murder” on Netflix, which I’d highly recommend. Don’t blink though or you’ll miss something!
I’m really looking forward to getting back to teaching workshops in Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart and connecting with the local community again.
Working with people is one of the things I enjoy most about the Arts and it has been hard being without that this past year. I really enjoy working with community groups and last year completed “Park Life”, a community wall art project on display on one of the exterior walls at Flowerfield.