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Great Pottery Throw Down winner to make star appearance at Gray's School of Art

By Alan Beresford

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THE winner from this year's The Great Pottery Throw Down on Channel 4 is set to appear as a guest speaker at Robert Gordon University (RGU) next month.

The Great Pottery Throw Down winner AJ Simpson are looking forward to appearing at Guest at Gray's. Pictures: AJ Simpson
The Great Pottery Throw Down winner AJ Simpson are looking forward to appearing at Guest at Gray's. Pictures: AJ Simpson

AJ Simpson, who is a Gray’s School of Art alum, is to inspire an audience as a guest visitor at the Guest at Gray’s series.

The 21-year old design graduate from Aberdeen, who graduated in 3D design at Gray’s School of Art, will give an in person talk at Aberdeen Art Gallery, as part of Guest at Gray's, on April 29.

AJ excelled in The Great Pottery Throw Down, winning Potter of the Week three times and receiving high praise from judges, Keith Brymer Jones and Rich Miller, who described their work as genius, quirky and imaginative. Highlights from the show include AJ’s stunning self-sculpture Happy Place inspired by nature and rocks found in wilderness and a bold and brilliant medieval themed A Pee in the Knight design as part of the show’s bathroom themed week.

These creations of AJ's seem a happy bunch!
These creations of AJ's seem a happy bunch!

Ahead of their Guest at Gray’s appearance, AJ said: “Since I left Gray's School of Art, it's been a bit of whirlwind adventure!

"After discovering my love for ceramics at Uni, I've taken on several projects, one of which was The Great Pottery Throwdown. I learned a lot more than I ever could have thought and it has given me the confidence to persue this as my full-time career.

“I was really pleased when Guest at Gray's got in touch with me. I remember going to Guest at Gray's talks just a couple years ago and finding them really inspiring and encouraging. I'm excited at the opportunity to share my experience and hopefully get people excited about mud!”

Co-director from Look Again at Gray’s School of Art, Hilary Nicoll, commented: “It is fantastic that AJ is joining our Guest at Gray's programme.

"AJ is such an inspiration to emerging artists and designers and I’d like to say a big congratulations on their success. We can’t wait to hear first-hand about AJ’s experience on the Great Pottery Throw Down and to find out more about their experience and the fantastic projects they presented.

“Guest at Gray’s is a major part of RGU’s drive to strengthen the creative sector in Aberdeen and the North of Scotland and is one of ways the university is enhancing culture across the region.”

Winner of the inaugural series of The Great Pottery Throw Down in 2015, and lecturer in Three Dimensional Design at Gray’s School of Art at Gray’s School of Art, Matthew Wilcock, added: “AJ’s success on The Great Pottery Throw Down is testament to their talent.

"It shows creativity has no boundaries and imagination and hard work are key to the creative process.

“As an art school, Gray’s School of Art aspires to give our students the skills and experiences to successfully enter the workplace after graduation and invests significantly in the creative sector to enhance our student’s experience. We have a thriving ceramics and glass department, being the only art school in Scotland to offer ceramics as part of our curriculum and as an award at graduation.

“We are proud to house a large number of traditional pottery wheels, an art form for thousands of years and a craft which we are passionate about. I have such a strong passion for ceramics, as AJ clearly does, and I can’t wait to hear more about their experiences on The Great Pottery Throw Down.”

Lend me your ear...well, AJ's headphones, anyway.
Lend me your ear...well, AJ's headphones, anyway.

Gray’s School of Art’s glaze studio stocks a wide range of raw materials that you would expect to find in any professional ceramics workshop. Students are taught the science that goes into making a glaze and how to apply this to get the desired finish on your work. The school’s kiln room is home to 11 different electric, gas, and raku kilns so students can experiment with a range of firing techniques.

AJ will join in the Guest at Gray's programme as part of a series that invites leading professionals from the contemporary art and design world, to deliver talks online to Gray’s students every Friday and to the general public in person, once a month, at Aberdeen Art Gallery.

Learn more about the Guest at Gray’s series at lookagainaberdeen.co.uk

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