Yorkshire potter Pat Kaye returns to her roots with a brand new exhibition at the Weavers Factory about chickens…
In 2008 after 30-years running the Throstle Nest Gallery across the hills in Holywell Green, local potter Pat Kaye retired to Anglesey in North Wales and didn’t expect to show her work in public again.
Then at a chance meeting with the team behind the Weavers Factory in Uppermill, Pat was persuaded to come out of retirement and exhibit for one final time.
The Saddleworth Independent met up with Pat and asked her about the new show and what life was like as a female potter in the 1960s.
“My first memory of using clay was when I was a child in the 1940s, I would have been about eight or nine. I dug up some clay from our garden, pressed a leaf into it, cut around the leaf and took it into the house. I asked my mother if she would cook it on the old range we had in the kitchen. How I knew it had to be cooked I had no idea!
“A few years later I found myself working as a technician at the Huddersfield School of Art. I remember the head of the school asking me why I wasn’t a student and I told him I didn’t realise I could be. Then instead of arranging it through me he asked for my father’s telephone number and they arranged it together. It’s funny how things like that happened in the 1960s, but they just did. It was a sign of the times.
“After college I got married and bought a small kiln for my kitchen. It was only big enough for a coffee set and within a year I’d outgrown it. We lived in a small terrace house in Huddersfield and the only place available was an outside toilet across the cobbles. So I found a builder, knocked out all the walls and built my first proper kiln.
“Straight away I began selling to shops and galleries across Yorkshire, then one day someone from Lancashire asked me if I’d make lots of pots and drive them over to her place and I thought “No. I’m not going to do this. It’s time I moved into a place of my own where I could sell directly to the public. And that’s how my gallery began.”
“It was an old converted barn near Holywell Green in Halifax and before we opened a friend came over and said ‘I think you must be mad, you will never get visitors in this out of the way spot’ and I thought what nonsense that was. If you sell the right things, people will come. And they did.”
“I ran the gallery for over 30-years before retiring to North Wales with my husband Roger. We found a house with a big garden and despite all my good intentions within months I’d built a brand new studio in the grounds – so much for retirement!”
“Then a couple of years ago I met Julian and Nigel from the Weavers Factory. Nigel’s from North Wales and his uncle lives in my street, so we ended up talking about how nice it is to live by the sea. They asked if I still put shows on, and of course I don’t, but they were very charming and within an hour I’d agreed to do a huge solo show.
“For years I’ve been making ceramic chickens and people absolutely love them, so I decided to make more and call the show ‘Gallus Domesticus’ – that’s Latin for the domestic chicken! I’ve also made pigs, sheep and cows, plus cups, bowls, plates, sculptures — you name it, I’ve made it!.
“I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard – not bad for an 81-year old?!”
Pat Kaye’s exhibition ‘Gallus Domesticus’ opens at the Weavers Factory on Saturday 6th July and runs until Sunday 28th July.