This post was sponsored by Wearth. I received product to review, but everything written below comes straight from my heart.
It’s Valentine’s day! And this year, I wanted to do something a little different. Amidst the flurry of oversharing couples on the internet and PDA on the streets, I wanted to share a different kind of love story. An ode to something I love, and a way of living that has opened me up to being a more tender person. So here’s my little love letter this V day.
Fun fact (which you may have already discovered if you follow me on Pinterest): I’m a little bit obsessed with ceramics. Over the years of my sustainability journey I’ve grown to love the variety and wonder of many natural materials, but it was clay, and what you could do with it, that was my gateway.
It all started one day back in December 2015. I’d just returned from my first tour, I was basically unemployed and it was freezing outside, so I had no plans to leave my house. Then one day my friend recommended I should watch a new show, kind of like Great British Bake Off for ceramics. It was called The Great Pottery Throwdown, and BOY did I get addicted quickly. I had no idea that there was so much versatility in types of clay, what it could create and how you could play with it. I didn’t know the excitement of glazing something knowing that it would come out a totally different colour later, the anticipation of waiting to get work back praying it wouldn’t have cracked in the kiln, or the intensity of Raku firing, where pieces are literally plunged into garbage fires and come out looking beautiful (I’m sure there’s a poetic metaphor somewhere in that image).
The one thing that grabbed me more than anything, however, was the judge Keith Brymer Jones. Now I’m a passionate person, but I don’t think I’ve ever loved anything the way that Keith Brymer Jones loves pottery. Seriously, just watch this video about his ceramics, it’s lovely. Every week someone’s work would bring him to tears without fail. Whether it was a vase or a toilet (that’s right, one of the challenges was to hand build a flushing toilet), he could always see the beauty in a vision executed well and an individual overcoming obstacles to create something new.
There was something about the way Keith was moved that has stayed with me ever since. I’d trained in dance and art theory, but this moved artistry into a different type of tangible sphere. I stopped seeing things as high and low, pieces in galleries vs ‘handmade’. I began to consider the true work and skill that goes into crafting something, and I began to value the versatility of natural resources and materials. Ceramics got me thinking beyond buying something because of its aesthetic; about the stories of the makers and the processes that enable creation. I realised that art wasn’t just defined by tastemakers, but that objects that I brought into my home were also a form of expression. In the time since this lightbulb moment I’ve visited multiple makers markets, and I’ve found some of the handmade items moving me nearly as much as Keith’s regular cries.
And honestly, I love it. It’s not just about understanding the full stories of where things come from, it also opens me up to appreciate beauty and success in totally different ways. Living like Keith, willing to be moved by the big and small, actually enables me to have a much more open, appreciative mind with which to approach the world. Because there’s such glorious success in creating something. It’s like language, we take a series of letters and shape them into infinite ways to connect with each other. Artisans take the natural resources our planet already provides, and shape them into endless combinations of new and beautiful ideas. Clay can be anything you want it to be.
I was always very vocal about my support for independent artists, but it was ceramics that got me into understanding and supporting artisan work back in 2015. Cut to 2017 when the new, London based sustainable and ethical department store Wearth asked me if I’d like to review something from their store, and naturally I jumped at the chance. Wearth bring a range of carefully selected independent UK artisan brands and designers together in one place, stocking a wide range of eco-friendly and socially-minded products, from natural organic skincare to sustainable homeware. Their focus is on quality, durability and sustainable luxury, and they work to provide a place to shop consciously without having to sacrifice taste.
One of Wearth’s key missions is to support makers who are passionate about sustainability. Their brands are selected so that nothing is created at the expense of the planet or people on it, while everything they sell is also vegan-friendly and cruelty free. Wearth acts as a trusted middle man; they don’t have a large distribution centre, instead their brands deliver direct to you in a more efficient and eco friendly system. However it’s Wearth who does the careful ground work of discovering and evaluating brands, so you can shop safe in knowledge that their conscious credentials have been thoroughly checked. They also have a shop by values page, which means you can easily find products depending on what you prioritise (and guess what zero wasters, they have a whole plastic free section).
But, more than that, Wearth really are all about British craftsmanship. They’re passionate about British brands, and their platform gives room for small independent companies and makers in the UK to grow. So guess what I asked to review?
Big shock: ceramics. I mean, look at these espresso cups. They’re designed by Nina + Co, handmade in London from British earthenware clay, and come packaged in recycled materials. But more than that, they’re absolutely stunning. If Keith was with me now, I can imagine him welling up when I bring them out for a wee coffee. It’s such a small thing (and one which I know is a real privilege to have) but these little cups make me so happy when I use them. Having always lived in furnished flats I own virtually nothing for the home, and these are the first pieces of kitchenware that I’ve ever owned in my whole life! So while they serve their purpose as espresso cups very well, they also remind me of artistry, craft and hard work every time I look at them. I think of the land the clay came from, the hands that shaped them, and the hours and days it took to make these pieces reach perfection. They’re visually pleasing, but they’re also a labour of love. Love that is honest and committed.
So I’m not really too fussed about romance this V day. Instead, my attention has been on appreciation, openness and supporting British artistry thanks to Wearth. It’s a lot nicer, don’t you think?
‘it is in your self interest to find a way to be very tender’
Photography by Christian Kinde