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Victoria Claire Dawes is putting her own spin on functionality.

The ceramicist has mastered the art of turning red earthenware into practical tableware and interior installations, which she now crafts from her home in Pisa Moorings.

Her journey between leaving home to study and returning with an established brand behind her has been an eventful process, spanning 10 years.

In 2010 Dawes studied ceramics and printmaking inthe United States at Northland College, in Ashland, Wisconsin.

After graduating in 2013 she was awarded The Anonymous Potter Studio Fellowship at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis.

During that time she also travelled to craft schools across the US.

In October 2014 she moved to Sheffield, England — the country her family had immigrated to New Zealand from when Dawes was 9 years old.

‘‘I had always wanted to go back,’’ she said.

Sheffield was new territory to Dawes, who originated from Newcastle.

It had a lot to offer her though, including the opportunity to take part in a starter studio programme at Yorkshire Artspace, where she had a kiln and pottery wheel.

By 2016 she was a selected member of the British Crafts Council’s Hothouse, a business development programme.

‘‘It wasn’t about making your work any better, it was [about] finding the audience.’’

The programme gave her the skills and platform to execute a successful kickstarter campaign to set up her own studio at Yorkshire Artspace, which she had for three years.

Competition was tough in the UK, which meant she had to work ‘‘really hard’’.

She describes her earlier years inthe US as her ‘‘learning phase’’ where she actively looked for mentors and worked hard to become a ‘‘skilled craftsperson’’.

‘‘Any opportunity to learn from someone, I would do that.
‘‘I had some fabulous mentors out there,’’ she said.

However, about a year ago, Dawes decided it was time to be closer to family and relocated to New Zealand, after fulfilling all of her show commitments in the UK.

She made it back to New Zealand just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit and now works from her home in Pisa Moorings.

User friendly. . . Ceramic tableware created by Victoria Claire Dawes, of Pisa Moorings. PHOTO: Yeshen Venema
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