Meet Nan Rothwell and Celebrate the Everyday Pot (Sept. 8-Oct. 3, Opening Sept. 11) August 30, 2015 16:39
Nan Rothwell: the back story − to Nellysford and Charlottesville via England and Crozet
(First in a series leading up to Nan's show, "Celebrating the Everday Pot", opening Sept. 8, 2015 at City Clay.)
Nan Rothwell, potter and teacher, describes herself as a good starter. That’s a modest statement from someone who plunged into pottery intensively by spending three years in England learning and practicing her craft in both private studios and at the Harrow School of Art. It’s also modest in light of her forty+ year career, which includes building kilns, launching and maintaining a gallery, starting a collaborative studio in Crozet, and establishing her own studio and classroom in Nellysford.
Her story is inspiring to others; her instruction gentle and encouraging.
At nineteen Nan took off to backpack in England. Along the way, she met and lived with potter Rosemary Zorza, spending six months with her. This was followed by two years of study at the Harrow School of the Arts in a specialized program designed to teach not only the skills of creating beautiful pottery but of managing a business, kiln construction and glaze creation – the full gamut to establish a pottery studio. Breaks from school were spent in production studios gaining more experience. After three years Nan returned to the States intent on finding a location to establish her own studio and possibly a cooperative with other artists.
She looked from New England south to the Blue Ridge of Virginia. New England, Sandwich MA in particular, looked enticing until she asked a fellow potter what the tall red flags outside his kiln shed were for. When he responded that they helped him find the kiln after winter snowstorms, she turned south, past her original home in Washington, D.C. Visiting the Albemarle County area to interview with the Innisfree Village, she found a place to call home upon meeting fellow potters, making friends and initially putting down roots in Crozet.
In Crozet she purchased a house to serve as both home and studio. There she built her first kiln based on her one-time experience at school in England and on a book she bought. Substituting the available 8-lb. bricks for the 1-lb. called for in the book didn’t go well, to say the least. But Nan is comfortable taking on challenges and figuring out how to make things work. For the magic and joy of clay, the lessons were worth it.
As Crozet began to grow, she and her husband Carter opted for a more rural life, buying land in Nellysford near friend and fellow potter Kevin Crowe. In fact, the two families interwove their lives in many ways, each bringing separate skills to house and studio construction, kiln building, pottery, and family life overall.
Watch for the next chapter about Nan, including her work and influences, teaching, and future plans.