Sarah Maingot is photographer-turned-potter and creator of Be Still Ceramics. There’s an earthy rawness to the textures and organic shapes of Sarah’s vases, which feel like timeworn relics. She describes them as ‘hand built’ – an apt expression that captures the immediacy of the relationship between maker and pot.Follow Sarah Maingot to her cottage-garden studio in the Cotswolds and it’s easy to see why she feels a sense of serenity there. Tall fronds of cow parsley frame the big windows of the rustic cabin, which was lovingly constructed from reclaimed materials, many literally unearthed from the surrounding ground. The sense of meditative stillness Sarah feels when working with clay gave her the idea for her company name.
Planning isn’t part of the Be Still process. These are objects that flow spontaneously from the fingertips of the maker, with the raw materials guiding the way to the final shape. Inevitably, this will be organic and idiosyncratic, so each final work is unique. Expect fat-bellied vases, squat jars and asymmetric forms that hark back to the handiwork of ancient potters. Decoration comes from simple pinched details and the naturally coarse grain of the finish.
Texture is a fundamental feature of Be Still pieces. The character of the clay is left undisguised, with chalky slip layers emphasising the intentional roughness of the surfaces. Partial or internal glazes give natural colours, from mottled cliff-face greys to nutty browns, the chance to be appreciated.