POTTER & ENVIRONMENTALIST
Rachel spent her childhood in Corfe, but after years living away, she knew she needed to get back to Purbeck. Its open space, countryside and sea make her feel part of not just a community, but of a place. It’s massive, she says, in terms of how important it is to her. Nature gives her a solid sense of belonging. Every moment outside is a chance to watch, observe and become more attentive. She never feels separate from the landscape but connected to it. Caring for the world around her is the same as looking after herself, her family, and her friends.
Rachel comes from a family of makers; sewing, knitting, and fixing come naturally to her. So, when her children were born, she gave up her career as a graphic designer and turned to pottery. Pottery and clay have a rich heritage in Purbeck; some clay workings go back to the Bronze Age. Recently, she’s been collecting hand-dug clay from different holes in the ground. It could be from a neighbour’s garden, or from an excavation dug by a local utility company. Each handful has a different quality and, when fired, produces its own rich colour range. She’s experimenting with glazes from seaweed and wood ash. It’s turning out to be a productive journey deep into Purbeck’s geology and history. The area is clearly an inspiration.
At Furzebrook, Rachel has set up a community studio to provide space for other artists. It’s as if she’s established a mini-ecosystem, where people can create in a calm, supportive environment. Three years ago, she became the youngest councillor on Corfe Parish Council. When something is missing in the community, she says, she always asks what she can do to help fill the gap. After all, this is a woman who can turn holes in the ground into works of art.