Staff at Preston’s University of Central Lancashire are going potty as a former student has been crowned Britain’s best budding potter after winning the BBCs Great Pottery Throwdown.
Matthew Wilcock, who completed a degree in ceramics at UCLan in 2013, emerged triumphant as the winner of the televised challenge from an original line up of 10 contestants.
The 24-year-old, who was born and raised in Preston, was the youngest on the show.
Matthew, who’s dad works at UCLan, said: “Words can’t describe it really, amazing, and I want to thank my mother and father for introducing me to clay.
“If I could break up the winning trophy into 10 shards to share with the other potters I would - but it would be a shame to ruin a good pot!”
He has grown up surrounded by clay as both dad Geoff and mum Pauline are potters.
And, he’s now passing on his skills to pupils at the prestigious Giggleswick School in Yorkshire, where he is a teacher and official Ceramic Artist in Residence.
He said: “My parents were at the final, and they didn’t know until then I had been Top Potter.
“I went home at half term and there were all these medals in my old bedroom at my mum and dad’s house, so I know they are proud of me as they have kept them all.
“They are both potters themselves and know my skills and determination, and have been incredibly supportive. They are happy that I am following my career.”
Competition judges, top potter Keith Brymer Jones and ceramic artist Kate Malone, had to decide who had done enough to be crowned Britain’s best budding potter
The finalists had to make an original 12 piece tea set out of porcelain; a true test of a potters’ skills; the spot test from hell where they cut intricate and decorative designs into leather hard porcelain vases using a technique known as ‘the devil’s work’; and for the final throw down they had just 20 minutes to make three, high shouldered jugs.
Keith said: “What Matthew did to win this contest is that he married design with technical ability and a real knowledge with a sense and a love of ceramics. Really and truly he has got a soul for it.”
Kate added: “What a pleasure to present the trophy to Matthew, he has been really been consistently there as Top Potter, and really applied himself well.
Geoff has worked at UCLan as head ceramic technician and helped out with teaching for the last 35 years and worked alongside Matthew during his time at the university.
The proud dad said: “When Matthew won the Great Pottery Throwdown, his mum and I were both emotional and quite speechless.
“To say we were proud is an understatement. We were proud that he had progressed through every challenge with commitment and confidence. We were proud that being the youngest contestant he showed maturity and calmness. We were proud that we had both been part of his developing ceramic journey and that he relied on his own creative judgement to complete the tasks.
“We would like to congratulate Matthew on behalf of all his followers, friends, family and work colleagues who have supported him in his achievements - you have made us all proud.”
Despite currently enjoying national recognition Matthew has remained close to his roots and still exhibits work with his dad at UCLan, most recently at the Northern Potters Association (NPA) West in the UCLan PR1 Gallery.