News & Events

Penny Simpson workshop visit 2010


Penny is an inspiring example of how travel can change people’s lives! After completing her degree in English and European Literature, she wanted to travel and live abroad, and went to Japan to teach English. Captivated by the culture there of food and its presentation, with great care given to the selection of pots to complement both the season and what is being served, she began to study pottery at the Shimpo Togei Centre in Kyoto. She travelled the country, visiting potteries and wrote ‘The Japanese Pottery Handbook’ (Kodansha, 1979).

On her return to England, she trained at Dartington Pottery, then set up her own workshop in Devon, moving to her current premises in 1994.

She has continued to make ‘pots for food’, combining her love of cooking and good food with her Japanese approach to presentation. Using slip-decorated red earthenware, she makes a wide variety of dishes, bowls, mugs, platters, jugs and teapots. Her two signature colour ranges, ‘Blue’ and ‘Country’, have recently been joined by a quiet, soft, creamy grey, inspired by her last visit to Japan. She also makes a range of slip-decorated tiles, working to private and public commissions. Her work is sold from her showroom, and through galleries, exhibitions and fairs.

Penny has maintained her links with Japan, exhibiting regularly there in tableware festivals, and is organising a visit to the UK in July by 4 Japanese potters.

Our visit to her workshop will begin with demonstrations of slab techniques (including a great way to use old tights!), and making pots combining thrown and slabbed elements. She will show a variety of tile decorating techniques, and there will be an opportunity for us to put these into practice. Penny has lots of books and references for ideas, or you can bring your own designs. Tiles are available in 4 × 4 or 6 × 6 inches, and there is no limit, other than time, to how many you can decorate. Decorated tiles can be glazed and fired for £1 each, then posted to you for an additional £5, but hopefully we can arrange a coordinated collection, which would be better all round.

The workshop is beautifully organised, but has limited space, so there are only 15 places available for this visit.


Please note that the only access to the workshop is up a short but fairly steep staircase.

For more information on Penny and her work, see her website, or the very interesting article by Andy Christian in Ceramic Review 241 (Jan/Feb 2010).