This interview is with the multi-talented Wyn Abbot. If you have not heard of her, she is an author, artist and ceramicist.
Hi Wyn, thank you for agreeing to let me interview you. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
Hi Sue, I live with my husband Colin in the north of England in the Lune Valley, which is very inspirational, my studio is at the edge of a walled garden in Hornby Castle. I have been passionate about mythology and ancient cultures for as long as I can remember, and all my work is inspired by these. I like to story-weave their mythologies and imagery into my work. My work is also influenced by my shamanic beliefs, which also influence my day to day life.
Were you artistic as a child and have you always wanted to be an artist?
Always, my father had me drawing, painting, creating and woodworking from being tiny. Creating and art are in my blood. But also, stories, all my life I have been an avid reader. When I was younger I really wanted more than anything to be an archaeologist, I was fascinated in particular by ancient Egypt. But I didn’t have the opportunities to pursue such a career then. However, both through my books and research I have helped to fill this gap, although not physically, I spend a lot of time searching through archaeological texts. Also through the pieces I create through my ceramics, which enables me to keep alive the stories of our ancestors.
Have you had any formal training or are you self-taught?
Both, I studied Philosophy & the Environment at university, which has really helped in the research elements for my books. I was always creating and making as I grew up, and then again with my own children, art and creativity has always been high on the agenda. I went to college to study sculpture, on my first day the tutor said, “there is the clay just help yourself”. There was no instruction as I had expected, and I am glad now because it enabled me to find my own way and not have to follow a specific rules or techniques.
How would you describe your work?
Hmm, well I think of it as spiritual. It has meaning. I never wanted to create something as an ‘ornament’ or merely functional. I want it to have a sense of presence and to call to people. Often people will spend ages choosing between 3 or 4 similar items to see which ‘calls to them’ and I totally get that, and that is what I want really. Something that is meaningful to both me and the buyer.
You create a huge amount of different items from candle snuffers to temples, T Shirts and so much more, where do you find your inspiration?
With my art and my ceramics, I never plan it. I literally start with a blank canvas or a lump of clay and see what it becomes. I love making the temples, and I get completely absorbed in them, so they are usually as much as a surprise to me when they are finished. I do create a lot of things, to me it doesn’t matter whether it is a candle snuffer or a temple, I want it to come from the same place, and to have a symbolic meaning. The T Shirts and cards are all images from my paintings. I often struggle to find a T Shirt I want, so I use my own images. My husband is the one who says this will work as a T Shirt, or that won’t.
Has your work changed over time?
Yes it has. But it has told the story of my journey from the NHS to now. The sculptures I made were very much about breaking free spiritually and learning about myself, I didn’t throw on the wheel at all at first. Most of them were very detailed figures and temples ancient Mayan in particular, they have evolved a lot but also gradually and organically. Once I started throwing on the wheel, it opened another door for me, but I still wanted the pieces to have a sculptural element like in the tree goblets.
When did you decide to pursue art as a career and how did you get started?
I had been working for the NHS for about 20 years, I absolutely loved it, but the last 18 months I did not get the satisfaction from the role. My role was becoming so bureaucratic and taking me away from what I thought was important. I was doing pottery at college as a hobby, but it had already become my passion. It was Colin who persuaded me to give it up and go self-employed. I was terrified. I was good at networking and found some amazing support from the university and from a Lancashire project which helped me with taking the leap into self-employment and put me forward for an award with I won. I used the money to set up my first website. It was hard going for a while, but I never regretted it, people would always tell me what I should make, but that doesn’t work. You have to trust your instincts. Once I found my way I never looked back.
I knew you were a ceramicist and artist, but until I checked out your website, I didn’t realise you were also an author. Is this a new direction for you? Can you tell us a bit about your books?
I had some things published while at the NHS, I have been planning on writing books for years, it has to be when the time is right and not when you think the time is right. I have published a couple of journals which were great, but am currently writing a series of ancient goddess books. The fourth one is due to be published this autumn. I like to dig deep and go further back in time to the stories that we know, there is so much more than what we see at face value. I am also working with Naomi Cornock who is doing the art work for the books.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am hugely busy with orders at the moment, we sell worldwide, and have a new shop in Colorado stocking our work, so busy with that. I do have some new sculptural pieces in progress, these are based on different deities and the stories, such as Hekate, Cerridwen and others. I am also finalising my book Demeter & Persephone: Goddesses of Harvest & Spring. There is a huge amount of research for each book, but it’s something I really love.
Thank you again Wyn, where can people go to find out more about your work?
Thanks very much Sue. I have two Facebook pages:
Wyn Abbot Ceramics:
Wyn Abbot Art: https://www.facebook.com/lunevalleypublishing
I also have an Instagram Account and my website is: