Sharron Page Stocks - Inspirational Woman

Last week one of Dor and Tan's co founders, Sharron Page Stocks was featured by Plymouth Women in Business Networking as their inspirational woman of the day.

"Like all woman I learnt at an early age to multitask, as a mum, daughter, partner, designer, nurse, potter, confessor and finance manager. To enable me to keep a small flame of creativity alive through all this I have had to be open minded and adaptable to whatever opportunities came along.

I was born in Cleethorpes on the cold North East coast. My father was a sailor who spent five years in the Royal Navy during WW2 and then got a job as a Grimsby fisherman after the war. He was a wonderful Dad, who spent many hours drawing and painting with me.

At school, I was passionate about art, and this led me to take a two year Foundation course at Grimsby College of Art studying drawing, painting and ceramics. I loved drawing and painting but was captivated by ceramics under the inspirational tuition of Dave Morris. The tactile quality of clay attracted me and the way it can be manipulated in your hands or a potter's wheel to create forms which are then transformed in a kiln to create beautiful objects. It thrills me to think that the work of ancient potters can still be found today after thousands of years.

I studied for a degree in Three Dimensional Design - Ceramics, at Loughborough College of Art. We were fortunate to have brilliant tutors, with the late Arthur Griffiths as head of department and David Leach a visiting lecturer. Both had worked with the Bernard Leach at the Leach Pottery, St Ives.

After graduating, I wanted to travel before setting up my studio. I moved down to London and had a range of jobs in the fashion industry which took me all over Europe.

I married my husband, Peter, in 1981 and over the next ten years had three beautiful children, Ben, Frances and Matthew. During this time I set up my own pottery studio in Hacconby, Lincolnshire.  

We had a farmhouse with a few acres of grazing and disused stables which Peter converted into a delightful little pottery with sheep as my close neighbours.   

I sold work through galleries across the north of England, gave voluntary lessons at local schools, taught adult education evening classes and also served as a committee member of the Northern Potters Association. In 1995 I opened a gallery in Stamford and had the luxury of being able to display and sell my work as well as running the pottery.

The start of the new millennium was a difficult period for me, caring for my mother through a long battle with cancer. After her death, I felt the need for something new in my creative life. I made a trip down to St Ives for a course at the Painting School and instantly fell in love with the excellent light and the colours of the town and the warm welcome from the local Cornish community. This stimulus reignited my long held love of painting and ultimately led us to relocate as a family to Cornwall.  

During this time, I developed my painting skills and became a founder member of the Porthmeor Group of painters. I exhibited my work at the Penwith Gallery, the St Ives Society of Artists and in 2007 had a solo exhibition of enormous abstract impressionist paintings at the Crypt Gallery.

Much as I enjoy painting, I missed working with clay and when I found myself creating abstract paintings of pots I realised that I needed to return to ceramics. So in 2012 we decided to build a new studio. We were fortunate to have enough space in our garden and the talented Jon Swannell our friend and next door neighbour built us a delightful cedar wood pottery.

It took me a while to refine old skills, source local clay and test new glazes but in 2014 I had my first 'open studios' as a potter again! I am working on my 'one off' studio ceramics, and a range of these are on display at the Penwith Gallery, St Ives. A selection of my work is shown on the Craft Council directory of makers. I am a member of Westcountry Potters Association, the Cornwall Ceramics and Glass Group and have my website and online shop.

In addition to my personal work I am also a joint founder of a new company in St Ives called Dor & Tan, which designs and makes modern handmade domestic ceramics and sells them through its online shop.

I created Dor and Tan's first range which has just been launched. We will also help incubate other designer makers and feature their work on the website. I am thrilled to be working with a young creative team trying to build a new business in the South West, which I hope will help to train and develop a new generation of potters.

After 40 years as a maker, I still wake up with a head full of ideas, excited to see what the new day will bring."

Craft Council

Illustration by Viola Watkins
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