The audio file for this article was produced by the Ceramic Arts Network staff and not read by the author.

1 Tanya Gomez working on larger vessel inside studio. Photo: Sarah Weald.

My introduction to clay was a non-traditional one. When I was at school, I wasn’t dreaming of becoming an artist. All I wanted to do was to travel and see the world. And I ultimately did do that. Those travels certainly informed my practice but they weren’t necessarily intended to do so. 

It all started when I was 17 and went to Toronto, Canada, to explore the city and work in a new place. I was born in Toronto, so that city held a special pull for me and I had been considering moving there. But before fully committing, I wanted to check it out. That trip was an eye-opener, especially after living in a southern coastal town in England for most of my life. After three months of being in Canada, I came home with a new perspective but no real direction. All I knew was that travel still beckoned. 

At this time, I was offered to stay on a yacht in Majorca, Spain, to work as a chef. While I had no experience, I saw the opportunity for what it was, a chance to sail with a crew to places I had never been before. This was the first foray into what would become five years of traveling the world, working on boats, and seeing the sublime beauty of the sea. 

2 A Day, 16½ feet (5 m) wide, thrown porcelain, fired to 2336°F (1280°C). Photo: Jonathan Bassett.

Crossing the Atlantic several times, staring at many a coastline, and being surrounded by water, all had an impact on me—being in the middle of the ocean, the sky covered in millions of stars, the sense of the deep seas beneath, enveloped by the elements, it seemed inevitable that whatever I would ultimately pursue would be intertwined with these profound experiences. 

In my mid-twenties, I started to think more seriously about what career I would pursue. Although I hankered for the sea, I knew I was not going to be a sailor. Instead, the thought of something creative excited me and my gut was curious about clay. I could visualize things in this material and was intrigued by how one could mold and manipulate it. There was a way in which it mimicked the fluidity of the sea and I imagined I could incorporate what I saw in the water with what I made with clay. I came back to England after living in different parts of the world, pursued a Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) art and design course at Camberwell College, and took evening classes in pottery. This then led me to complete a BA in craft and design at the University of Brighton, spending most of my time in the ceramic department. Ultimately, I earned my MA at the Royal College of Art in London and have had an independent practice for over 20 years. 

3 Porthole, 15¾ in. (40 cm) in diameter, thrown porcelain, 10% gold luster. Photo: Jonathan Bassett. 4 Porthole (detail). Photo: Jonathan Bassett.

Where I Work 

I have had several studios over my career. My first was a shared workspace with artists who worked in other mediums: fashion, jewelry, and carpentry. This was an inspiring atmosphere, with everyone concentrating on their businesses, celebrating the highs, and understanding the lows. It was an exciting time, and we were all just venturing out into our fields. It was also during this time that I met my partner, Mike. We moved to Lewes and before starting a family, we had managed to buy a house with a garage at the back. This was converted into a studio. We heightened the ceiling and put in some skylights. It is 9 ft. 8 in. × 19 ft. 7 in. (3 m × 6 m) and I call it my ship, as everything has its place. It is a fully functioning workshop with a wheel, spray booth, gas kiln, and small electric kiln. I make my work here and run one-on-one throwing courses. It’s a wonderful counterbalance to the other significant parts of my life, raising two children and teaching at West Dean and the University of Brighton. 

5 Glacier II + Glacier I, 117/16 in. (29 cm) in height, wheel-thrown porcelain, fired in reduction to 2336°F (1280°C). Photo: Jonathan Bassett.

Why I Love It 

Making works out of ceramics is a joy, and the endless ways it can be used and manipulated is a continuous investigation. It is something that drives me and carries me into a curiosity of wonder. Pursuing a living through my work is a juggling act—half my time is spent making my decorative wares for exhibitions, galleries, and commissions and the other is teaching in various places. 

Fundamentally, my work is about the diverse qualities of the sea. I am conscious of natural phenomena and dramatic landscapes and incorporate those into my pieces. I’m fascinated by the idea of creating an overwhelming sense of something that is so overpowering one cannot comprehend its boundaries. This sensation can be translated into a piece by following a line and using rhythm, balance, tension, or color. The works are an emotional feeling that I’m trying to translate and I am consistently inspired to learn techniques that will enforce this, exploring new methods and evolving them in my own way. Some of these are simple and others challenging. 

6 APRÈS NOUS, LE DÉLUGE, aubergine-glazed Limoges porcelain, ormolu, steel wires, Teklon Gold monofilament, wood, varnished brass and mirrors, 2019–2022. Collaboration with Lignereux, Gonzague Mézin (créateur d’objets rares), Art Plinths (carpenters), Fonderie de Coubertin (art foundry and bronze workshop), Façons Mécaniques (metal working studio), Silv’Or (metal fire-gilding and burnishing workshop), Solyfonte (art foundry and bronze workshop), Thierry Toutin (bronze fitter), Ursae (goldsmiths). 7 Gomez loading bisque ware. Photo: Sarah Weald.

I predominantly throw porcelain decorative vessels and my signature pieces have soft, undulating tops and vibrant glazes. Over the years, I have created a few collections of works using other clay bodies and textures. However, I have spent the last year experimenting with large thrown porcelain platters, a series titled Portholes, which have tested my technical making. This series also marks a different direction for me, as they hang on the wall and incorporate gold luster and gold leaf. With all the possibilities, I continue to be motivated to explore and create in new and unexpected ways.

7 Gomez loading bisque ware. Photo: Sarah Weald. 

Work-Life Balance 

Creating my vessels takes several days. One is for throwing, another is assembling, and then days to scrape back and clean up the pieces. Once dried they are fired and a three-day glazing process begins. Each piece takes three to ten weeks to complete, depending on size. All these stages are staggered in with work and life, so the balance can be a real juggling act. I have lists upon lists to be as efficient as possible with time since it’s a limited resource. I enjoy the varied day to day that it offers, but at other times it can be difficult to focus. Ultimately, however, I am not sure I would have it any other way. 

Working Potter: Tanya Gomez

Turning Points 

I am very lucky to have a space to work in and diverse roles within my practice that I can integrate with students to share skills, ideas, and opportunities that have come my way. Sometimes, these arrive at a crucial point for them. 

Looking back, there have been a couple of pivotal moments when my business was struggling. I was working long hours with not much outcome, wondering where it was all going to go. Right at the point where I was considering packing it all in, I won the best vessel from the Wesley-Barrel Craft Award. This was a cash-winning prize that made me carry on and gave me confidence. It was very unexpected and I’m not too sure what would have happened if I hadn’t won. 

8 Light to Dark, Monochrome Collection, porcelain and black clay, wheel thrown, fired in reduction to 2336°F (1280°C), 10% gold luster. Photo: Jonathan Bassett.

Another moment was being accepted to be part of Collect Open of Collect 2017 at the Saatchi Gallery, London. For this, I created an ambitious installation comprised of 35 pieces on a 16 ft. 5 in. (5 m) mantle against a monumental painterly backdrop. Titled A Day, the installation was part landscape, part expressionistic study that pushed my work into a new arena and, with the help of an Arts Council award, allowed me to fund and create my vision. 

The largest commission I have embarked on was completed in 2022 and was exhibited at the Palace of Versailles. I was asked to throw 18 porcelain columns of various sizes, which were glazed and fired multiple times to create a mazarine-blue, watery finish. This had many challenges, but in the end was a spectacular piece. These opportunities gave me financial support and pushed my practice and skills. More importantly, they gave me the courage and belief that I had chosen the right profession for myself and my life. 

9 A Day, 16½ feet (5 m) wide, thrown porcelain, fired to 2336°F (1280°C). Photo: Jonathan Bassett.

Having the studio so close meant that I could still do my work while raising my children. I could grab some time when the kids were asleep or in the evenings. While I do appreciate the convenience of that, I am now looking for a bigger space. At the moment I have to move my work around the studio and plan my throwing time so I can fit in classes. Having a larger space would allow me to teach more people without compromising my own work. 

Career Snapshot

Years as a Professional Potter


Number of Pots Made in a Year



MA Ceramics and Glass Royal College of Art, London UK 
PGCE in Further Education, Brighton UK 
BA Craft and Design, University of Brighton, UK 
BTEC Art and Design, Camberwell College, London UK 

The Time It Takes (Percentages)

Making work (including firing): 30% 
Promotions/Selling: 10% 
Office/Bookkeeping: 5% 
Teaching: 55% 

Favorite Tool

My thumbnail, it is so diverse and I can take it with me anywhere. 


Throwing and manipulating the clay 

Where It Goes

Retail Stores: 5% 
Galleries: 45% 
Craft/Art Fairs: 35% 
Studio/Home Sales: 10% 
Online: 5% 

Instagram: @tgceramics 
Facebook: @tgceramics 

10 Bella, 17 in. (43 cm) in width, thrown porcelain, fired in reduction to 2336°F (1280°C). Photo: Jonathan Bassett. 11 Basalt, various measurements, wheel-thrown black clay, fired in reduction to 2336°F (1280°C). Photo: Jonathan Bassett.

South Downs 

I have always lived on the coast and here in Lewes, the local area is buzzing with small clay studios. This has grown in the last decade, especially since The Great Pottery Thrown Down on Channel Four and social-media posts of tips and techniques, all of which have ignited a fascination with the material. In the last few years, I have held back on exhibitions that have had a large outlay due to the change in the current market feeling slightly vulnerable. This has led to more teaching and dedicated time to concentrate on developing a course and running a Ceramic Diploma Foundation course at West Dean College.


People often ask me for advice about making clay their profession and I consistently say you must love what you do and believe in yourself. It’s important to maintain a sense of integrity within your work. Regardless of your successes, whatever you are doing requires perseverance and determination to keep going. One of the great and often wonderful challenges with clay is that things don’t always go as planned. So much like life itself, you must flow with the changes accordingly. And at each point, you learn something new. 

12 Porthole, Celadon, 105/8 in. (27 cm) in diameter, thrown porcelain, fired in reduction to 2336°F (1280°C), 10% gold luster. Photo: Jonathan Bassett.

I have also come to realize that having like-minded people around is crucial, especially when having a studio on my own. I need contact with others, putting things into perspective, and being inspired by each other. 

There are fundamental rules in clay but there is no wrong way, so the most important thing is to make it yours.