Brookwood Pottery: From garden garage to studio shop

Photo of Brookwood Pottery: From garden garage to studio shop

Brookwood Pottery was established by Elaine Fallon, a ceramicist who, in the mid-nineties, trained with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland in Kilkenny. Following a career as an arts administrator, Elaine returned to her love of making and design when she set up Brookwood Pottery, making small-batch, handmade ceramics in her garage in 2012.

Photo of Brookwood Pottery: From garden garage to studio shop

Elaine says that the last recession brought about a “necessary change of direction” in her career. “I think the recession was a creative time for a lot of people. Many people lost a lot, but many of them also decided to go for something that they wanted to do. It was a chance for me to change direction and to take the opportunity to do what I really wanted to do.”

Photo of Brookwood Pottery: From garden garage to studio shop

She returned to study at NCAD-pursuing an advanced sculpture course with Brigitte Seck. She then began designing and making-first selling her work on a stall in Temple Bar, Dublin. Her products were then stocked in Cows Lane Designer Studio, the shop at the National Gallery of Ireland and at Kilkenny Design Centre. She is also stocked in Cait & I in Sligo, Moo Market in Dublin and online.

Photo of Brookwood Pottery: From garden garage to studio shop

Elaine’s work looks deceptively naive and simple. Her designs are rooted in illustration and print from times past and are therefore wonderfully evocative and nostalgic.

“I’m drawn to textile design,” she explains. “Big influences are the work of illustrator and author Oliver Jeffers and Danish prints from the 1950s. I grew up in the 1970s when every wall in the house was wallpapered, so those patterns were a huge part of my childhood growing up and I really relate to how Orla Kiely speaks about pattern as a result.”

Photo of Brookwood Pottery: From garden garage to studio shop

Fast forward to 2018 and Elaine has moved from the garage at the end of her garden to a bright new studio and shop space in Santry in north Dublin. She makes her collections, teaches classes and is inviting other creatives to collaborate on a range of workshops which are open to the public.

Inspired by ceramicist Tallie Maughan, who established the pottery studio Turning Earth in London, Elaine decided to crowdfund in order to open her new, larger studio space.

Photo of Brookwood Pottery: From garden garage to studio shop

“The really nice thing was that our backers have been on the journey with me from the garage to the studio. They’ll book a class and go for a coffee next door - they’ve been happy to see me change and grow and have been really supportive,” she says.

Photo of Brookwood Pottery: From garden garage to studio shop

Elaine has also set up a shop at the front of the building in order to diversify. The shop stocks other designers as well as her own work, including Ruby Robin Boutique, Heather Finn knitwear, Arty Smarty and Badly Made Books.

In the studios, Elaine now collaborates with the likes of florists, furniture makers and yoga instructors to create multi-disciplinary classes. “Our business is now much more experiential,” she says. “As a maker, I want to bring people on the journey with us, letting people experience what we do and letting them use our studio. I’m interested in collaborating with other makers and in having a more direct relationship with the end user of my products.”

Photo of Brookwood Pottery: From garden garage to studio shop

While her former career as an arts administrator meant she had plenty of experience working with people, the new shop and open studio has nonetheless meant something of a learning curve.

“I’ve learnt a lot about teaching and about communicating creative ideas to both adults and children, as well as different ways to work with groups and individuals. I’ve learnt a huge amount about stepping out of a private studio into a more public space. It’s a luxury to be in the studio making on your own, but I’m very social too, so it’s been great to have the two sides to the business over the past six months.”

Photo of Brookwood Pottery: From garden garage to studio shop

Elaine says she is relishing the new opportunities that the bigger space and diversification have brought. “I feel I’ve achieved a huge amount since last June and feel very grateful to have the opportunity to do all these things in business," she says.

Photo of Brookwood Pottery: From garden garage to studio shop

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