Steven Sales

Steven Sales is an artist living and working in the UK. Steven’s ceramic practice is initiated by a desire to feel connected to the landscape and all the forms of life that live there. He develops ceramic glazes from wild clay, rocks and ash which are foraged from a range of different landscapes.

If you had access to all the powers, how would you improve the world?
Equality, sustainability and respect for the plants and wildlife we share this world with.

What are the biggest sustainability challenges in your work and how are you addressing them?
Working with ceramics presents a range of sustainability and ethical challenges. Traditionally clay and minerals used for glazes are extracted from the earth, processed and shipped around the world. For this collection I resolved to use materials that are local, recycled or otherwise destined for landfill. I was able to salvage over 70% of the total clay used in this collection from the waste of other ceramicists. I had great fun researching alternative sources of common glaze materials and ended up creating glazes composed entirely of locally foraged wild clay, egg shells and ash from food waste.

Which conscious lifestyle choices are you making? And are you considering any new ones?
I’ve always been drawn to objects that have a history. My favourite pieces of furniture, kitchen utensils and clothes are nearly all second hand. In Bristol there is a culture of people placing their unwanted household items on the street for passers-by to take. I’ve acquired several small tables, dressers and chairs this way. My dining table is made out of an old Victorian door that I found in a skip. Recently my friends and I have formed a mending group. We get together every few months to repair clothes and textiles. I recently repaired my favourite studio apron with some attractive darning. It’s a great feeling breathing new life into something that you treasure.

What have you rebelled against in the past, and what are you rebelling against now?
I think I’ve been quite rebellious throughout my adult life whenever I’ve been presented with rules or situations that seem illogical or counterintuitive. For this collection I wanted to illustrate how materials with perceived little value, such as river mud and food waste can be utilised in ways that make it equal to the finest porcelain.

What was the inspiration for your Steinbeisser pieces?
During a hot summer a few years ago I encountered a stretch of river clay that had completely dried out. It had cracked and fractured into distinct sections, each a separate island of clay and it was beautiful.

Describe your work in 3 words!
Modest. Unpredictable. Brown.

What has been your favorite dinner experience?
I get so much pleasure from cooking and eating out that it’s impossible for me to distinguish which has been my favourite. I really love the occasion of the dinner and I’m just as happy with fish and chips eaten on a blustery beach, chaotic buffet style dinners with family and friends and solitary evenings eating big bowls of comforting, creamy pasta. I think the best dinner experience is alway one where you can feel how much thought, love and care has been put into it.

What excites you about tomorrow?
Discovering something new and beautiful.