Sally Mitchell Photography
Creative & Commercial Photography

The 100 Journal

Frances Osborne - 100 Journal

Frances Osborne at the Fisherman’s Shelter, Portscatho 25th July 2018

Frances Osborne at the Fisherman’s Shelter, Portscatho 25th July 2018

I meet Frances on a sunny day at the Fisherman’s Shelter in Portscatho. She sets up here for a couple of days at the end of each month to sell her beautiful ceramics. I have a small piece of hers at home which I covet. Her work is very tactile and graphic, she’s made a gorgeous bespoke range of cups using black clay for Tatams, a coffee shop right at the waters edge in Portscatho. The view out of the Fisherman’s Shelter across Gerrans Bay up to Nare Head and Dodman Point is one of my favourites in Cornwall. We sit and chat about her work and how she got to where she is today.  

“I was born and brought up in Padstow into a fishing family. The only pots my family ever made were crab pots from local willow. I had no idea I’d ever end up doing this (ceramics), I was always artistic and creative, always pestering my mother for paper and pencils. I had a very good art tutor at Wadebridge school and he did ceramics so that was my first taste of it and I loved it. I did a foundation course at art school and that included ceramics, photography and millinery which I loved but ceramics won and I wanted to do more. We were lucky at the time because Janet Leach used to come to look at our work, so did Michael Cardew from Wenford Bridge pottery and we had Mary Rich from Falmouth. Also Denis Mitchell (who worked for Barbara Hepworth) used to come and teach, we just took it for granted these amazing artists used to come to Redruth Art School, it was just normal but looking back on it we were incredibly lucky. 

After three years I left art college and worked for Mary Rich, then I got married and had a family so things stopped for a while. Once my youngest son got to the age of about 7 or 8 I got back to pottery, that was about 30 years ago and I’ve been potting ever since then at Fraddon. It’s just grown since then, bit like topsy really. I teach as well and I just think I’m incredibly lucky, I just absolutely love what I do, I really do. Of course you still get days when things don’t turn out as well as you’d like them to, you open the kiln and think that’s not so good, but other days you get a brilliant surprise. The day you’re not excited to open the kiln lid, is the day not to do it any more, but it’s never happened so I’m still here! (laughs)”

Do you do a lot of bespoke work?

“No not really, I only really do it for Tatams and have made stuff for the Hidden Hut, Simon and Jemma have been a great support to me. Simon came to me to have some extra pottery lessons, he could already throw but since the Hidden Hut has taken off, I’m not sure he's got so much time for it anymore. You really need a good stretch of time to absorb yourself in it. The bit I love is that you get totally lost in it, to the point where my family won’t get fed! (laughs) no it’s not that bad, but I’m always juggling between being out in the studio or should I be in the house doing something. 
My clay comes from St Agnes Beacon, I like to keep it local, the only exception is the clay I use for Tatams which is a black bodied clay and no one in Cornwall produces that.”

You can find Frances over on Instagram

100 JournalSally Mitchell