Chris Hughes started Ainsdale Pottery in the 1980s while still a primary school teacher. Chris attended courses run by Brian Cook – now a fellow member of the Art and Craft Guild of Lancashire – at Edge Hill College followed by night-school classes at Southport College and eventually was granted a one-term secondment at St Martin’s College in Lancaster. The course, Clay as a Teaching Medium, was run by Barry Gregson of Caton Pottery and provided teachers from both primary and secondary school to improve their own pottery skills and to learn new and innovative teaching methods to use with the children back in their schools. Shortly after this Chris met Rob and Gill Overton of RO Pottery in Standish and a long friendship began as Rob fired Chris’s pots for many years while Chris continued his career in education, eventually becoming a Regional Director in the National Numeracy Strategy.
On retirement Chris developed Ainsdale Pottery more fully, building a workshop and installing his own kiln allowing a considerable increase in the quantity of pots produced and expanding the range of shapes and glazes used.
Chris joined the Art and Craft Guild of Lancashire 20 years ago and has exhibited with them regularly since. In 2011 The Guild acquired its own gallery, The Gallery at the Wharf in Burscough, Lancashire, where Chris exhibited his pots along with about 25 other artists. After the closure of the Gallery, the Guild moved to Brockholes Nature Reserve near Preston for a few years but then evolved into a stand-alone shop called Lancashire Makers in Churchtown, Southport. This has became a well-established shop and a second shop has recently opened in Ormskirk at The Chapel Gallery. Pots are also in stock at The Atkinson shop and the Wigan Framing Shop and Gallery.
All Chris’s pots are hand-built using pinching, coiling and slabbing techniques. Bowls, bottles and flagons – often narrow and sharp edged – lampbases and plates form the majority of the output and glazes in whites, greys, greens and browns, but especially in blue and black (Tenmoku) along with iron, cobalt and copper oxides are the usual surface decoration. Landscape plays a big part in the decoration of the pots and often in the overall shape. Carved low relief landscapes and carved rims often feature mountain silhouettes and other features from the Lake District and Snowdonia and occasional local landscapes drawn from the beaches and dunes of Southport.
Chris also draws using soft pastels choosing landscape and abstract subjects. The abstract drawing draw heavily on aspects of the landscape and reflect his own interest in, and educational background as a graduate in geography, a life-long walker and climber and volunteer worker with charities working in the environment.
Photography has played an important aspect in Chris’s life, his father having been a keen colour photographer in the 1950s and 60s. He introduced Chris to taking pictures with a box Brownie, later a Brownie 127 and eventually a Voiglander Vito C – now all classic cameras! Having moved happily into digital photography Chris continues his interest in the landscape around him, as well as taking photographs of family and friends. As an ambassador for The Pahar Trust Nepal – a charity building schools in the poor rural hill districts of Nepal – a new opportunity opened up for further landscape photographs but more importantly a new era of portrait photography began.