Potters are all fired up about unique pieces on Masterchef

Siobhan and Martin Miles-Moore working on new ideas at Hipping Hall with chef Olli Martin.
Siobhan and Martin Miles-Moore working on new ideas at Hipping Hall with chef Olli Martin.

In just three years a pottery studio in Lancashire has a cult following for its unique design pieces.

Using materials foraged from nature Siobhan and Martin Miles-Moore create a signature glaze for their pottery, and plates from their studio were seen on television in the final of Masterchef: The Professionals in 2018.

Photo Neil Cross'Siobhan Newton and Martin Miles-Moore exhibiting ceramics at Arteria in Lancaster, with Jane Richardson

Photo Neil Cross'Siobhan Newton and Martin Miles-Moore exhibiting ceramics at Arteria in Lancaster, with Jane Richardson

The couple work with a lot of Michelin-starred chefs, but most recently have been working with Olli Martin, of Hipping Hall near Kirkby Lonsdale, who made it to the final of Masterchef: The Professionals last year.

Head chef Olli wanted to find local potters to work with and Miles Moore Ceramics took him up on the offer. Siobhan said: “We work closely with our chefs to make sure their dining ware tells the same story as their food.

“Olli Martin is a fantastic and very talented chef and he is on our doorstep.

“As Olli forages for food for his dishes, we forage for materials to make glazes for the pottery.

Photo Neil Cross'Siobhan Newton of Miles Moore Ceramics exhibiting at Arteria in Lancaster

Photo Neil Cross'Siobhan Newton of Miles Moore Ceramics exhibiting at Arteria in Lancaster

“He had a big year in 2018. Having our pottery on Masterchef (pictured right) was ridiculous. The fact he was using our plates, which were made exclusively for Masterchef and can’t be used anywhere else, was really exciting.

“It became his plate when he put his food on it. We were really proud to be able to help.

“It makes the chef’s job easier and can inspire them to do a new dish.

“We really like working with passionate and creative chefs – some of which are among the best in the country.

Martin Miles-Moore at the potter's wheel. Picture: Phil Rigby.

Martin Miles-Moore at the potter's wheel. Picture: Phil Rigby.

“We regard this work as being a collaboration between artists, they work in food; we in clay.”

‘East meets West’ is Martin’s latest collection of work.

This new collection of work integrates iconic local materials such as Coniston slate, Shap pink granite, iron ore from the Florence Mine in Egremont and river sand deposited in the Lune Valley fields after Storm Desmond.

Siobhan said: “Over the last 12 months we have been using local materials that occur naturally including granite, stone and woodash.

“We work with Logs Direct to source wood ash, and use pure cherry ash and ash from a bog oak tree.

“You can usually find us in a quarry or a field gathering things up to set fire to them for the glaze.

“Lots of potters buy in glazes and refire them on the pottery, which is brilliant but too much hard work.

“We use original stones from streams and Shap pink granite from the quarry which is bright pink and black.

“We use the bits other people can’t sell. We go and collect a whole load of it then grind it into talcum powder.

“As well as woodash and pink granite we use other slates which we make into a powder. We do use other people’s waste.

“To fire a piece, you select the clay (some of which we buy in) and make your piece and let it dry out.

“It is then put into a kiln (like an oven) which is fired to 1000 degrees centigrade to take out all the water, because it is a porous texture a bit like a dense plant pot. Then it’s time to choose what to glaze it with, slates, or woodash and select the finish, which might be iron ore, then you can either spray the glaze on or dip the pot in, it’s a bit like painting it with glass.

“It is then dried out again then fired again at 1200-1300 degrees centigrade.

“We make plates and bowls for chefs, moon jars (big round vases made for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing), and we work to commissions a lot.

“Hipping Hall have my microcosm pieces (bowls lined with gold leaf) on the tables and a huge piece of sculpture in the fireplace.”

The studio works with The Old Stamp House Restaurant, Ambleside, Blue Smoke on the Bay at Low Wood Bay, Windermere and the Michelin-starred Restaurant Fraiche on the Wirral.

They also work with a couple of places in Sheffield, one a pop-up fish and oyster bar, and one called ‘No Name’.

Siobhan, 47 and Martin, 59, live in Hornby, but have their studio in the corner of a barn in Lupton. Siobhan, a former firefighter, grew up in Hornby and Martin is from Warton and Hest Bank.

Siobhan had a fantastic primary school teacher and she worked with clay most weeks from the ages of eight to 11.

She said: “Martin was told he was pretty good at pottery and did a degree at Preston Polytechnic.

“Martin began his career in ceramics as a hobby in the early 1980s.

“Within five years he had won New Designers and he and his work travelled the world for a while.

“The eighties and nineties were all about ceramics until the stock market crash when Libertys in London, which sold Martin’s pieces, closed two ceramic departments.

“After a career break as a physiotherapist working in elite sport and with the MoD he returned to ceramics in 2016.

“Three years ago we set the business up to work together to produce pottery. It’s how we keep a roof over our heads, but it is also our career and our passion.”

Martin does a lot of pottery for Japanese tea-making ceremonies and will be exhibiting his work at Brantwood centre for the arts in May.

Siobhan said: “Potter Tomoo Hamada, who is the grandson of Shoji Hamada who helped Bernard Leach to establish the St Ives Pottery, will be coming to the exhibition from Japan.

“Martin has a niche of his own and has his own following for his pottery.”

Miles Moore Ceramics do a lot of commission pieces for people, interior design pieces or dining wear.

If a building project has materials left over, Siobhan and Martin can use the materials to make pottery.

Siobhan said: “For one lady we brought slates from an extension and used it to make her a new dining service.

“We like to tell stories with our pieces. We use a selection of materials from family-run businesses.

“We bought 100 kilos of applewood from a cider company in Gloucestershire and use clay, slate and woodash.

“We eat off our seconds (pottery that is not perfect and able to be sold) and we have a small collection of friends who are ceramic barmy.

“It’s a privilege to work with such a beautiful substance, it’s therapeutic to influence and work with it.

“It’s about working with the right people. The big thing is we use stuff other people can’t.

“Hopefully it will help people think of the importance of looking after the planet.”

Miles Moore Ceramics had an amazing year in 2018, exhibiting in the Leach Pottery and the Stratford Gallery, developing a partnership with Brathay, winning Cumbria Family Business Awards and seeing Oli Martin from Hipping Hall make the final of MasterChef: The Professionals.

They are currently finalists in the Cumbria Culture Awards and have exhibited in the Lunesdale Art Trail.

Miles Moore Ceramics are currently exhibiting their work at Arteria in Lancaster, in their Ebb and Flow exhibition.

n Their work can be viewed at Arteria, 23, Brock Street, Lancaster.

See their work on Facebook by searching Miles Moore Ceramics.

Visit their website at www.milesmooreceramics.com.The studio is at The Raines @ Foulstone Farm,Lupton, tel: 07921 849463.