Maker Spotlight: Meet Tara Squibb, the Welsh ceramicist bringing back the Obvara technique!
Today’s First of March maker spotlight features Tara Squibb, who is a Welsh ceramicist specialised in stoneware and porcelain. Her designs can be found in many locations nationally, and her work has been celebrated at multiple exhibitions, including Ceramic Wales 2019 and Shades of Clay 2018.
We recently caught up with Tara Squibb to reminisce on how it all began and learn more about her latest works, including where her inspiration is found and passion for the Obvara technique!
Tara, you’ve had an exciting few years. Reflecting on how it all began, what was it that sparked your interest in the craft world?
I have always been incredibly creative, but didn’t take it seriously until enrolling on an applied arts course at Wrexham Glyndwr University. That’s what kickstarted it all and is truly where the journey began!
How did you come to specialise in Stoneware forms?
I became accustomed to working with stoneware as I favoured its strength and reliability in hand building, as well as wheel thrown forms. My Bachelor of Arts course began with taster sessions in different mediums such as glass, metal and clay. I immediately fell in love with clay and since then, I have never looked back!
How does your creative process begin and unfold?
It all starts with an idea! Once an idea is formed in my mind, I transfer it into maquettes. Through stages of experimentation, I adapt the processes and techniques to evolve the sample into the vision I imagined.
What is the average timeframe for creating a stoneware form?
Dependant on the scale of the form, amount of texturing and drying stages in between, a form can take anything from 2 days for a small piece and up to a week for larger forms
How does the beauty of Wales influence your work?
The Welsh countryside has always been part of my life. The landscapes are breathtaking which change with the seasons and always bring new inspiration for my work, from surface to texture and colour.
What has been the highlight of your craft career so far? Maybe you have exhibited somewhere nationally or internationally or received a particular accolade or recognition of which you are particularly proud. How did that make you feel?
I have loved my ceramics journey. My proudest moments include achieving a first for my BA, being featured in Ceramic Review as an emerging maker, and also, winning the people’s vote in the Carter Preston exhibition at the Bluecoat Display Centre. I feel privileged to be able to do something I love.
How would you like for your brand and career to develop in the next 5 years?
My intention now is to continue to work with the Obvara fired forms, by developing new forms and further experimentation with textures. My goal in the long term is to increase the awareness and appreciation of the Obvara technique by holding workshops.
Has there been a certain inspiration or driving force behind your collections?
I am fascinated by unusual techniques and like to try new ideas which are normally inspired by aspects of the natural world, as I hint at with my current work that makes use of blacksmithing techniques that I adapted for use with clay and inspiration from marine life.
Do you have a favourite piece ever worked on?
My favourite piece is probably from my Sedimentary Erosion work, when I looked at how nature’s surfaces are altered by the forces of the weather.
Can you share some insight on what to expect from your upcoming collection?
I hope that the viewer will be intrigued as I have been by the spontaneous patterning created using the Obvara technique. It’s a relatively unheard of and almost forgotten process that deserves recognition. It’s firing process is much more environmentally friendly and shouldn’t be consigned to the ever growing list of forgotten craft techniques. My intention is to utilise it with my hope being to re-introduce the technique to my audience.
Can you share how the First of March core values – Hiraeth, Cynefin & Hwyl – inspire your creations?
For me, I hope that the First of March core values are apparent in my creations. Wales is very much my home – it’s a daily privilege to live where I do. I have so much pride and love for my location and surroundings.