From the creators of the Great British Bake Off came the Great Pottery Throw down: a competition to test the skill of the best amateur potters in the country.
For 10 weeks the contestants battled it out on Channel 4 until eventually Jodie Neale was crowned victorious.
The potter from Rhondda Valley, Wales was awarded ‘Best Potter’ twice before finishing in first place.
When Jodie isn’t making wonderful creations in her pottery shed at the bottom of her garden, she’s a hard-working NHS nurse in Wales. Working continuously throughout the coronavirus pandemic was a stressful time for the nurse who said, “Sitting down at the wheel or the table with that material and you just… concentrate.
“The only thing you’re thinking about is the thing in front of you and what you want to achieve. Everything else is in the background until you have to go to work again.”
In August 2020, nearly five months after the first national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, arts and craft superstore Hobbycraft revealed they had seen an increase of online sales by 200%. Many people had turned to crafting as a way of keeping occupied during the lockdown.
Heather Ducos, co-owner of Alford Pottery in Lincolnshire, said she too has noticed an influx of people wanting to give crafting a go – specifically pottery.
She said, “We’re having a pottery festival here at the end of May and we thought it would be fun to get the town involved and get them to make something, so we challenged them to make a thousand [clay] birds.
“We brought them back and fired them and we’ve got over 1,200 now but they’re still coming in. More people keep coming to get clay to make these birds for us.”
Whilst pottery does require a substantial level of skill, Jodie says she now hopes the show will encourage people of all skillsets, and ages, to give pottery a go for themselves: “Perhaps previously it’s been perceived as a hippy art or something you do when you retire but pottery is for everyone and you make of it what you want.”
Despite winning the Throw Down trophy, which she said was a huge honour, the highlight of Jodie’s pottery journey is something closer to home: “My highlight would be the first couple of firings I had. After a year of recycling everything I made and then I fired it and had these pieces it was just… Oh the feeling I had!”