Designer Spotlight: Taz Pollard

With her quirky, bold ceramics being described by others as “a little bit naughty”, Taz Pollard is quickly gaining fans. Quietly unassuming and introverted, this has taken Taz by surprise. “I don’t know quite how it happened!” she admits. “I live in a little north Devon bubble and no one really knows about my work down here, but when I go to London it’s a whole different ball game and people seem to understand where I’m coming from.”

Taken by her grandparents at an early age to craft centres, Taz cites gazing up at a potter at work as her earliest inspiration. From there followed a traditional route from a GCSE in pottery, right through college and then on to do a BA at university. After taking a break to get married and have children, Taz then returned to the craft, completing her Masters and it’s here where she found her own voice. Modern, fresh and vibrant, Taz’s quirky use of paint splash effects has won her many fans, as well as the occasional telling off. “I have got into trouble with a few traditional potters, which I kind of like actually. It appeals to my sense of humour!” Taz has also recently enjoyed a whirlwind of accolades, from being shortlisted for the Confessions of a Design Geek bursary, to being chosen for the New Designers ‘one year on’ award, and seeing her products grace the shelves of Heals, Future and Found and The Southbank Centre.

All this success feels a million miles away from where she works in a log cabin on the edge of Exmoor. Here, Taz is surrounded by a wealth of traditional artists: “There are many traditional potters in north Devon and I’ve learnt an awful lot from them, but I also wanted to find my own voice and work with more contemporary colours and materials.” While her work isn’t overly subversive, it is a little cheeky and plays with the notion of making everyday objects extraordinary. Drawing inspiration from Tudor pottery, which at the time was considered a disposable commodity, Taz skillfully plays with notions of old and new, mixing materials with clay that you’d not expect, such as rubber. “Plastic bottles are mostly seen as just something you use in your everyday life, rather than being considered extraordinary objects. But by putting these everyday objects into a different framework and situation they can be seen in a different light.” Perfect for those of us who are a little wary of injecting bold brights in a large way, Taz’s extraordinary objects offer the chance to bring a pop of colour to an otherwise neutral space.

Like any artist, Taz thrives on new ideas and has an innate compulsion to create. “The best bit is when I get an idea, get really excited by it and I have to go and make it right away. It’s quite a weird compulsion where I have to get the idea out of my head.” The process can’t be rushed, and both of the techniques Taz employs - slipcasting and throwing pots - each demand a lot of time. A recent piece which Taz enjoyed making was a baluster jug: “It was one of those crazy ideas I had that may not have come to anything, but I really enjoyed adding the graffiti element to the traditional form.”

Taz has achieved so much in a relatively short space of time, but she’s not resting on her laurels. With more to come, including a limited edition range for Mockbee & Co, and a potential collaboration with textile designer Charlotte Nash, there’s a lot to look forward to. And while she isn’t able to reveal it all to us just yet, it’s clear that the future is looking neon bright for Taz Pollard.

Words by Ruth Garner, photography by John Russell taken from the February 2014 of Heart Home magazine.