Alumna Victoria Dawes ’13 recently opened her own ceramics studio in Sheffield, England.

At Northland, Dawes studied studio art, and ceramics and screen printing made up the majority of her senior exhibit work. She moved to Sheffield in October 2014 to participate in Yorkshire Artspace’s Starter Studio Programme for Ceramics, a plan that supports early career artists.

Dawes works primarily with red earthenware, a clay rich in oxides and detritus that gives it a deep color and low-firing properties. “My favorite aspect of my process is that at all stages, the raw clay and the pieces made are manipulated entirely by hand and made for other hands to hold,” she says. “The clay moves between your fingers: materials are tested for thickness on the back of a hand; cups are brought up to lips.”

Touch is especially important in Dawes’s work. “Working with clay, touching and manipulating the material allows me to access an inner calm—a place where worries and anxieties don’t matter. I am trying to learn to bring some of that calm into the other aspects of running a business.”

Most recently Dawes has completed a collection titled “For Dennis,” commissioned by MADE North for the Northern Industrial Project. Responding to a call to create “Something from the north of England, for the north of England,” she made a bread and butter collection in memory of Dennis Black, a former Sheffield Steel worker whose house she cleaned in the last year of his life.

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