Preston potter wows judges on Channel 4's new Great Pottery Throw Down series
A potter from Preston has won praise from judges during the first programme in the new series of The Great Pottery Throw Down.
Christine Cherry from Penwortham is one of the contestants in the latest series of the popular Channel 4 programme which launched last Sunday.
The former teacher, who is now a youth worker, made it through to the second round of the competition after particularly impressing judges with her children's crockery set.
Judges Rich Miller and Keith Brymer Jones were visibly moved as they praised Christine's choice to feature a fairy with brown skin in her design.
Christine told them: "She had to have brown skin ... I just never saw anything like her in anyof the books. It was important."
Rich told her: "I massively resepct the fact that you chose to give the fairy brown skin ... I grew up in the 80s and I never saw reflected back at me in broader society images I was seeing reflected in the mirror ... the beauty is that it's reinforcing a positive message for children."
Both judges became emotional as they commented on her set and Keith also praised the detail of her work on individual pieces. He said: "It's wonderful, it's really, really lovely."
Christine said it's a relief her TV role has finally been revealed - as she had to keep her participation secret until the show aired.
The 57 year old mother of two grown up sons said: "I think everyone is going to be amazed that I’ve done this as many know how shy I can be, so to see me on TV is just going to ‘blow their minds’.''
She continued: "It’s been hard to keep it secret as friends have been wondering where I was and I had to be evasive and felt like I was lying to them. But I know they’ll understand when word gets out. I can’t wait to see what they say."
Christine studied a Foundation Art course at what is now UCLan (University of Central Lancashire) before gaining a BA Hons degree in 3-Dimensional Design at North Staffordshire University and becoming a teacher. She rediscovered her love of pottery just five years ago.
She said: "I first tried pottery on my foundation art course in my late teens. I then did a design degree in the 1980s and took a pottery option in the second and third year. After completing the course I went on to become a primary school teacher and only came back to clay in 2016."
The series is filmed in Stoke at the Gladstone Pottery Museum and Christine said: "I absolutely loved being back in The Potteries. I was a student there... Some of it had changed now, but seeing my old haunts was wonderful. I loved being on set and to be at Gladstone - wow! I didn’t get to see inside the museum but was told it will reopen soon so am making plans to pay it a proper visit as soon as I can."
To progress through the series Christine's work has to impress the judges with contestants set new challenges each week. She said: "I loved seeing the Throw Down studio and felt very excited on the first day of filming. But I was really nervous and knew I had to get my shaking hands to stop or I’d have no chance later on when decorating."
Christine now loves bringing the joy of art and creativity to the young people she works with. She has an Etsy website where she reveals more about her passion for pottery and why she made the switch from school teacher to ceramicist. She wrote: "I started my journey into ceramics over 30 years ago, at college in Stoke-on-Trent, learning my pottery skills under the tutors John Weber, Neil Malkin and Derek Emms. After gaining an honors degree in 3d design, my career path moved into teaching. A primary school teacher for over 25 years, I loved my job with it's rewards...and challenges! However more recently my work/life balance needed to be adjusted. I was working well into the night most evenings and didn't have time to enjoy life. I had to address this!"
She advised her Etsy audience: "Porcelain and stoneware ceramics is a passion of mine. I first found the wonderful material, Parian Porcelain, whilst studying ceramic design in The Potteries during the 1980s. I perfected my Parian recipe during that time...and here I am now creating beautiful translucent vessels."
In the Autumn of 2016 Christine visited a pottery craft fair and used a potter's wheel for the first time in more than 30 years and decided to purchase her own wheel and get busy. She now creates two ranges of work, the carved porcelain parianware and thrown stoneware including mugs, bowls and minitatures.
Christine formerly worked from community pottery,Make North Studios on Whalley Street, Preston, where she was an artist in residence and pottery tutor until the pandemic forced its closure. She works from home and is a member of the Northern Potters Association.
Of her Throwdown journey she said: "It was very liberating. I’m quite a shy person and had to really step out of my comfort zone in front of the cameras. I had to try things that I’ve never tried before not knowing if they would work or not."
She continued: "There are so many things that I am going to take away from this experience, the first is increased self confidence and confidence in my pottery ability. I’m also going to take away new friendships and support from the other potters in the show. We made wonderful connections and I know I have made friends for life now…and we can talk pots all day long and not get bored!"
As for her biggest fans the single mum comes from a large family and has seven siblings, twelve nieces and nephews and eight great nieces and nephews.
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