Interview with Jo

Jo Downs – Director, Artist, Designer - Q&A

Were you a creative child?

As a child I was very creative. I sketched and painted and loved working with clay. At sixteen I had a pottery teacher called Mr Clay (honestly – that was his name) and he encouraged me to do an Art Foundation course with the intention of becoming a potter.

Was there one moment you’d say was your big break?

Things happened quite fast when I set up my first studio. Several big commissions came my way very early on, when Hilton Hotels and P&O Cruises commissioned me to make large scale installations. That was a little terrifying, and it was a steep learning curve, but it really helped shape the direction of my career as an artist.

Are there certain elements that appear in all your work?

The textures, colours and rhythms of nature are what fill my work. I think people know my glass instantly, for the bright palette of colours, the rich textures and the motifs of sand, sky, sea and ocean creatures.

How key is Cornwall to what you do?

My work is entirely inspired by the Cornish landscape and the beauty of its coast. I live and work here in North Cornwall, and I moved here precisely because it is such a naturally beautiful environment. Every part of my work is about Cornwall, its colours, its textures and of course its extraordinary quality of light.

Can you describe your working process?

My working process sometimes includes initial sketches, but much of the time it simply involves getting hands-on with the glass. I spend long hours working at the cutting table in my private studio and test firing designs until something really special emerges from the kiln.

What plans do you have for the future?

I plan to keep making beautiful new work for my galleries and my clients. That’s what my life is all about, and after almost 30 years as an artist the studio is still my favourite place to be.