A century ago, trades on Bermuda were often learned through apprenticeships, a rapidly fading tradition today. But at Bermuda Clayworks, located at Royal Naval Dockyard since 1997, this tradition lives on. Apprentice potters come here to train under resident studio potter Jon Faulkner in a five-year programme. Apprenticeships are a tradition that’s especially important to Sundee Faulkner, whose grandfather was a shipwright apprentice at Dockyard more than 100 years ago. Sundee herself grew up in the Dockyard area, where her father worked while the British were still a presence there. When Bermuda Clayworks opened, Dockyard was still a quiet outpost — quite different from the busy capital of Hamilton at Bermuda’s centre and quaint St. George in the East End. It proved to be ideal for artistic inspiration. What began as a one-man operation by Jon Faulkner has now grown into a collective of six ceramic artists on site and two additional exhibiting artists. “I love the potential for growth and creativity,” says Sundee, “and look forward to the day when we can further expand to incorporate the many other elements we would love to have, such as rooms for workshops and studios for visiting artists and a permanent art collection of contemporary pottery and ceramics.” Jon specialises in salt glaze stoneware and porcelain. He decorates vases, tea and coffee services, plates and bowls in a wide range of styles. Some designs suggest traditional island themes, while others, such as Clayworks’ Cottage design with its architectural details of pastel Bermuda cottages and moongates, are both whimsical and modern. Other designs include Wild Rose, full-blown white flowers against a soft blue background; Dragonfly, which sets turquoise dragonflies and lavender flowers against a gray background; and Dolphin, a sprightly design of dolphins swimming in a bright blue sea. Those who enjoy the unusual will love Jazz, a fun design with bright fruits and vegetables that pop against a multicoloured backdrop of green, purple and blue. Says Sundee, “Dockyard is a unique environment that still maintains our maritime trade combined with a place of production and industry. This is one of the few places on the island where Bermudamade products are still manufactured.” Whether for one’s own home or purchased for a loved one, a handcrafted gift imbued with this kind of history will surely be treasured.
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