Shangarry Potters

Ron Barrett is the head potter at Shanagarry Potters. He gets a lot of ideas from the natural world around him and makes simple, useful, and real handmade pieces that make life better.

Shanagarry Potters curates, commissions and sells unique traditional and contemporary collections, collaborating with our fellow makers and keepers of cultural heritage. A venture founded on a core appreciation of craftsmanship and enduring quality; the handmade craft as a skilled process of production by hand and machine.

We were lucky enough to work with Shanagarry Potters very own Ron Barrett. Keep reading to see our interview with him.

What is your job?

I work as Head Potter at Shanagarry Potters in East Cork making the Stephen Pearce ranges of pottery and in the last few years I've begun designing and making my own Atlantic Wave range.

When did you know you wanted art to be your job?

I started work in the Pottery at a young age, it was a local business, employing locals. Initially the work was not actually making but instead assisting with the many different jobs in the production of the clay then moving to stages of producing the pots, turning, cleaning etc. I witnessed other potters hand making pieces and I was fascinated. So during my lunch hour I began spending time on a wheel and I haven't looked back since.

Did you attend art college, and if so what was the experience like?

No, I didn't attend art college.

What is the job of art (or of artists?)

When my day begins I plan what will be made and at the end of the day I can look around me, with huge satisfaction knowing that I have produced pieces that will be used and enjoyed for years.

What is art to you?

In my line of craft my job is producing handmade simple, functional and beautiful pieces that enhance everyday living. This for me is art.

Why is art important?

As above. Life is for living and why not enjoy every aspect including eating!!

Do you have a favourite type of art?

Personally I love all handmade ceramics, basket making and pretty much anything handmade with skill and craftsmanship showing through.

What inspires you and your art?

For myself, it isliving locally to the clay fields and working close to the edge of the sea in Shanagarry. I get huge inspiration from my natural surroundings. These are part of my identity and what I make comes from within. So in essence my work is hugely inspired by my local landscapes.

Do you have a creative philosophy?

Yes. Keep it simple, useful & true. In other words, design everything with simplicity, make it useful, and keep true to the nature of hand made. So when you pick up my pots there is an instinctive understanding that it is handmade.

What advice do you have for young artists?

When we do workshops I am always delighted to see how easily kids take to clay. In everyday life there is sometimes little chance to be quiet and creative. Clay is the perfect medium. So I would say never miss an opportunity to get "dirty", don't be afraid to let your imagination run wild.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

I suppose knowing what I know now, I would advise my teenage self to travel more and experiment with other crafts

What do you like about working with clay as a material?

It is a natural material, with it's own properties so I find that I need to get to "know" the clay. From there I work with my hands, definitely my head and with my whole heart. My reward at the end of my working day is that I have in front of me something tangible to show for my time & energy. Working with clay gives me great satisfaction and I think it is keeping me young.