A ‘never say die’ persistence allied to sheer talent has seen one-time civil servant Karen Hanvidge ‘living her dream’ as one Scotland’s most exciting ceramicists whose modern twist on Paisley pattern is winning her a growing band of admirers.
But what a journey it has been. Her fascination with clay started on the beaches of California where as a child who loved to draw and paint she was ‘seduced’ by its pliability. But it took a move to Scotland and 30 years working as an administrator in the Government’s service before Karen applied and was accepted onto the Ceramics Design part-time degree course at Glasgow School of Art. She completed her BA (Hons) degree in 2011 while working part-time in Ikea and Boots to support herself through her six years of study. For Karen, this was the fulfilment of a life-long ambition to combine her love of drawing and painting with designing and making with clay.
Winner takes all
After graduation she Joined InCube, her local Business start-up hub in Renfrewshire which provided the next vital step in Karen’s journey. “I just loved being in a community of artists and it gave me a real foot in the door.” It was during her time at InCube that Karen won a competition to design the prizes for the 2016 Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Awards. This was a huge break for a long-time music fan and a real chance to create something to reflect the history and heritage of Paisley. It was the first time the awards were ever held in the town and were organised to celebrate Paisley’s City of Culture bid.
The competition was fierce, but it was Karen’s bold designs that won the judges over. She used Paisley’s vast number of steeples and spires to inspire her design of a ceramic bell which, of course, incorporated her signature Paisley Pattern. “I thought a ceramic bell was fitting as bells are traditionally used to bring people together and music does that too.”
Karen handmade 10 of these awards each and admitted to feeling a little bereft after she handed them over. “Everything I create is a labour of love, explains Karen. “Each piece takes many hours of work to design, make and complete.” It’s that dedication to her craft that makes Karen’s work so compelling and distinctive. Now working from a garage at home in Renfrewshire, Karen’s reputation just keeps on growing. She was even awarded Cultural Enterprise funds to run ceramics classes in Paisley – encouraging another generation of designers and makers to follow in her illustrious footsteps.
Paisley pattern re-purposed
Now working from her garage at home in Renfrewshire Karen is ceaseless in her pursuit of new ideas. “My local town of Paisley and its heritage paisley pattern really have been an immense inspiration in my designs and making.” Who would have imagined the Paisley Pattern which dates back to the Indo-European cultures of over 2,000 years would be revitalised, not in fabric, but in ceramics? That is precisely what Karen is doing and she is doing it very, very successfully
Her designs, which she describes as ‘both decorative and functional’ really are beautiful and distinctive. Her modern twist on a historic design gives each product a unique story to tell. Karen is quick to point that her work is ‘hand thrown’ – adding a custom quality to each item she produces. SDX is delighted that a selection of Karen’s creations is now available at our Buchanan Galleries store in Glasgow.’ Her ceramics really are a must see, so don’t delay your visit.
Karen, whose journey which started in Sunny California is now finding richness in Renfrewshire.
Paulo Coelho, the great writer and philosopher said: “When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realise his or her dream.”
Come along to SDX and help Karen Hanvidge achieve her dream.
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