Penny Withers' work explores and pushes the boundaries between thrown work and sculpture. She works from her studio in Sheffield, where she also teaches.
Much of Penny’s work is inspired by nature and dance. She is interested in the way water moves, the ripples and vortexes it creates, and the similar ways wet clay moves while spinning on the potter's wheel. Her pieces also suggest dance-like movements of the human form, twisting and swaying. In pottery, names of parts of pots frequently reference the human form (for example, in describing the shoulder, the neck or the belly of a pot) and it is easy to identify these shapes in Penny’s work.
Penny begins her works on the wheel, in a process she describes as ‘composition’. Forms are created, joined and altered by off centre throwing; where the piece is moved on the wheel several times through different planes. For her sculptures, thrown slabs are sliced, peeled open and unwound, exploring the idea of continuous surface.
Penny’s natural talent for drawing started her off on a career in art and she became interested in ceramics after having graduated with a degree in Fine Art, which she studied at West Surrey College of Art in Farnham. Although not the focus of her degree, she has worked in clay ever since, and her interest has moved from traditional craft pottery into making unique sculptural pieces, which start life on the wheel before being worked and altered on the bench.
For Penny now, working with clay has a playful appeal, the feelings of being physically involved in the medium and the pure joy of making things. As well as creating ceramic works herself, Penny enjoys teaching and the buzz of being with other creative people working in both different and similar mediums.