THE POTTER'S TALE
In its NEWly-styled restaurant space, fifteen cornwall's tableware sets the tone. fifteen stories caught up with its creator, the potter simon garne.
Simon Garne didn't plan on being a potter. Rather, he was sitting in a lecture during his time at Loughborough College studying sports studies when an idea was first sparked. "I used to look out of the window at the chimney in the art college. Once day, I passed by the department as they were installing a new kiln. I'm not sure what happened but something clicked".
Fast forward a few years and Garne discovered Whichford Pottery, a pottery founded in 1976 near Oxford that is acclaimed for its beautiful, ornate flowerpots. When an opening at the pottery became available Garne dropped everything to work there, but it was a while before he was allowed to mould any clay. "I stayed behind late every night, and one night my boss came by asked me if I would like to train as a potter. I showed interest and a week later he offered me an apprenticeship, I started at 08.30am on 11th April 1999, that day is forever etched in my mind".
Garne relocated to Cornwall seven years ago; he had his trade and wanted to surf and live by the sea. The move precipitated a change in his style, Cornwall’s thriving restaurant scene sees an increasing demand for beautiful tableware but it was Garne’s collaboration with Fifteen Cornwall’s head chef Adam Banks that established the potter's name locally. “Adam had a vision of what he wanted in terms of shape and plate that he wanted to use. The copper base was seminal and my starting point, most of my glazes incorporate copper, and the glaze I had started using Adam said he really liked".
Colour was also a key factor. “The blues, the greens, what I try to do is to make them run, like when the water rushes across the beach, it’s that moment I am trying to achieve". Garne is also attuned to the varied textures of the Cornish landscape “sandy blues that morph into the sparkle of the sea, black and flint tones, and then the purples and blues from the flowers that I can see whilst I sit in the sea waiting for waves”. Looking around his studio, his time in Cornwall has resulted in the creation of a variety of nautically-themed pieces, too. Diving helmets and lighthouses adorn the shelves, with the lighthouse at Trevose Head being a particular inspiration.
Garne's bowls and plates, with their mesmerising tones of sea-green provide the perfect canvas for Fifteen Cornwall's fresh and colourful flavours, dishes such as goats curd, Nespole fruit, majorim and toasted almonds, St Enodoc asparagus, barilotto, buckwheat and goat's curd and raw broad beans, beef lardo and dried lemon. The plates echo the colour and shape of the ocean; the spectacular backdrop of Watergate Bay.
Garne's tableware is part of a wider interiors refresh at Fifteen Cornwall, one that took inspiration from the values of the kitchen and its investment on fresh, whole-foods that have been sourced carefully. The new space has a light and airy feel and emphasis on natural materials like the sustainably-sourced American white ash wood applied to the wall surrounding the kitchen, and the oiled oak chairs from Danish furniture designers AndTradition that have rounded edges and clean, modern lines.
Looking forward, Garne is hoping to move to a bigger workshop, one that is open to the public, and where people can observe him at work, whilst learning more about pottery and the process behind each of his pieces. “I’d also love to have a couple of apprentices because pottery is a dying art, lots of old potters do things by themselves, so it is left to a few of the younger generation [like myself] to try and keep these skills alive and pass on our knowledge.”
Ultimately, it is about taking the essence of what Fifteen Cornwall stands for and exploring not only food and ingredients, but other creative realms. For Garne, this means ceramics that incorporate the colour and texture of the Cornish coastline and the sparkle of the seas. "Sitting in the ocean looking back at the landscape" he reflects, it's my favourite place to be".