Purple Punk Potter Lesley McShea is enjoying a fresh start back in her studio after students and the community rallied following a devastating fire.
The popular Stoke Newington potter was forced to down tools for more than six months after the fire in July, which is thought to have been caused by an electrical fault. She described it as one of the worst days of her life.
Her students gave their time to help with the clear up and a Crowdfunder raised more than £4,000 to get Lesley back on her feet.
Lesley, known locally as ‘the Purple Punk Potter’, said: “I don’t know how I’ve got through this; my love of ceramics I suppose. The people who helped are stars. The sad thing is that I don’t know many of the people who donated so I can’t personally thank them. I can’t thank them enough.
“Everything was blackened – I had to empty out the studio and wash everything at least three times. There was this sticky residue on everything. The list of stock I lost was four pages long – it included all my books and my portfolio.”
Thanks to the fundraiser, Lesley has been able to replace her two kilns and has installed a new fridge and new heaters. Her landlord has rewired the studio and it’s had a complete repaint.
The result is a fresh, bright space where Lesley can teach workshops and produce her ceramics. They’re sold in Know and Love and Handmade in Britain as well as Lesley’s own website. Her work is also featured in the Contemporary Potters’ Association shop.
Lesley, who has worked from this studio for the past 26 years has launched a collaboration with local candlemakers House of Buckley; producing bespoke ceramic dishes for their incense.
When See you in Stokey arrived to meet Lesley, the music was playing, the walls were decked with bunting and the shelves were full of artwork produced by her and her students.
She added: “It does feel like a fresh start. Today the students came in – the things they come up with, it’s just brilliant. I’m so proud of them!”
Asked how she keep her spirits up after such an ordeal, she replied: “I listen the radio. I used to sing along but I realised the neighbours can hear! I finish with a glass of wine most days. That helps!”