Matt Calder

Age: 32

Family background:
I come from a working class background. I am the youngest of three siblings. My parents separated when I was Five, my dad went to live in Tanzania when I was in my teens which had an influence in my creative career. My parents have always been supportive of my decisions and I work closely with my dad in our pottery studio at Kirkharle, Northumberland.

Work and/or community experience:
I hated school when I was younger and it really put me off further education when I finished school. I had such an awful experience I didn’t even consider going back until I had discovered ceramics and was in my 30s.

When I left school I headed for the construction industry as this was a job that didn’t involve much paperwork. I could work with my hands and wasn’t stuck at a desk all day. This work led me to an apprenticeship in plastering where I found my trade and later became self-employed. My business has been running for five years and I still enjoy the work today.

Three years ago I discovered ceramics, starting a part time night class at Ouseburn Pottery in Newcastle. The next step wasn’t hard as the man running the course was also lecturing at Newcastle College. He suggested that I enrol and I finished my degree in contemporary ceramics this year. During my degree me and my dad went into business together and opened a pottery studio in Kirkeharle. Living in Northumberland has had a major influence on my work and home life. Being responsible for my businesses is liberating and has given me self-respect.

Taking part in promotional events such as fair and exhibitions has provided me with confidence when it comes to working with a community.

Reasons for interest in the project:
As I have previously mentioned my dad went to live in Tanzania when I was in my teens. This gave me the opportunity to visit several times. I fell in love with East African culture which is heavily influenced by the Maasai community. One of my dad’s projects involves setting up teacher training colleges within the small rural town of kasulu where I help out with technical support. This opened my eyes to the possibility of exploring other cultures and people. This project offers the opportunity to do just that.

I am also constantly looking for new inspirations for my ceramics. I have explored the rural harshness of Northumberland, My work also portrays the ethnic influence of Africa and I would like the opportunity to explore Aboriginal arts, culture and traditional crafts.

Opportunities/ideas to explore during the project:
I am keen to explore collaborations with Aboriginal artists. If the group would like to visit my studio and have a go at making a pot they are more than welcome. I would be more than happy to take them on an Arts tour around Newcastle and Northumberland.

Walking is also a hobby of mine and I think a coastal walk and visiting some of Northumberland’s heritage sites would be enjoyable as well as a way of introducing our history.