ELLE MAXWELL

My name is Elle and I run Speckled Grey. I am a ceramicist who studied and specialised in ceramics at Nottingham Trent University, graduating in 2014. Since then I have continued my making career, developing my collections of artisan lighting and learning much along the way. I have worked in the the ceramics industry as a delftware painter in Oxfordshire for some years where I was able to support my understanding of materials and techniques. I now live in Leicester, where I am focusing on my own making adventures. In the years that I have been establishing my work, I have partaken in various events such as Top Drawer, Design Junction, New Designers and monthly meet ups with the Oxford Makers Group. My lighting can be found in various Nandos restaurants including Beckton and Chester, hotels and restaurants across Spain, and private homes from Austria to England. My partner Mark has helped and supported me through these first years of exploration, particularly with his graphic design expertise! Now I am continuing to grow and develop my creative practice.  

I love to make, hand crafting helps to understand what can evolve through the rhythmic process of making, drying and firing a piece. I am motivated by interior design for public spaces and am also intrigued by what items people choose to treasure in their homes. My venture is to create objects which cross all of these boundaries. My lighting collections are a unique combination of artwork, craftsmanship, and a functional entity for use in an interior setting.

I am inspired by simple materials and textures, by artful shapes and forms and how light can play a part in enhancing these qualities. I am drawn to minimal, clean lines and beautifully finished surfaces. Tiny discrepancies in an object tell a tale of it’s maker and how it came to be the way it is. Initial ideas for my collections were drawn from found rocks and pebbles which are perfectly tactile and eroded from years under the sea. The smooth, polished textures and soft facets were irresistible and these small characteristics have underpinned the designs and processes used in my ceramics.

The method I use is slip casting. I made the initial models from plaster, turned on a lathe and faceted by hand. These I then moulded in plaster too, so I can recreate the shapes time and time again. I have determined a unique process of casting in layers, then sanding and polishing the surface instead of glazing. I am engaged by the soft, matte finish this provides and how it echoes the natural stone surfaces I began with.

I am driven by two factors when it comes to the destination for my work. The first is the bigger picture, the public space, the bar, the restaurant or the entrance hall. The setting which offers the chance to create products in greater numbers and see how they interact in a larger public environment. Occupying a space where the work will be enjoyed socially, by passers by or eaters in, somewhere it will enhance and enrich a place for communing, convening and gathering. The second is the home. I am intrigued by people’s home interiors; I love to be surrounded by objects which have stories or memories tied to them, maybe a colour I adore or a material I am contented or intrigued by. I am captured by how these objects can express a person and make them familiar in a space. As somebody who experiences this sense of belonging, I am driven to create work which can offer the same for others. These objectives play a large part in why I find myself creating for interior spaces. Little nuances or first impressions become something to ponder in a persons everyday scene, whether out and about or at home. This notion drives me to keep making and celebrating my craft.