The Great Pottery Throw Down winner Rosa Wiland Holmes tells us all about her time on the show and what she’ll be throwing on her wheel next…
We’ve seen some incredible ceramics, raku disasters, leaky toilets, naked models, slip casting successes, and lots and lots of tears, but every high and low was worth it. The Great Pottery Throw Down came to it’s nail-biting finale this week, with Rosa Wiland Holmes crowned the winner.
We’ve been totally hooked this series and couldn’t be happier for Rosa for storming to victory with her stunning Alice in Wonderland tea set, pipping talented potters Matt Cronshaw and Jacob Chan to the post. So, when we were offered the chance to chat to Rosa following her victory in the pottery, we couldn’t wait to sit down and find out all the backstage gossip, how she felt about winning and who’s in that Throw Down WhatsApp group…
Hi Rosa, congratulations! So how does it feel to be the winner of The Great Pottery Throw Down?
I’m so happy! I loved every minute of it! It’s been such a fantastic journey, the whole team and all the potters have been amazing. I’ve learnt so much about myself as well as all the different techniques in ceramics. My family are so proud of me, the children have been so good at keeping it a secret and so understanding. They’ve been my greatest supporters and kept encouraging me. I just tried to do my best all the time, and I’m so happy it paid off. My dear friends were such a great help during filming, too – I’d never have been able to get so far without their support.
What have you learnt through the competition?
It’s difficult sometimes to keep going when everyone around you is so talented, but I’ve realised if I believe in myself and my good ideas, and work hard, I can do it – and produce some good art pieces along the way. My throwing is much stronger after being on the show – I’m now more in control of the clay and able to form and shape my art to a higher standard. I’ve also realised how much I’ve missed drawing, I’ve not done much over the last couple of years, so it was a real joy to do it again. I think that if you surround yourself with highly skilled and talented artists, you’ll learn from them and improve.
What was the hardest challenge and why?
The hardest challenge for me was making the toilet. It was so technical, every part had to fit perfectly, plus it was such an enormous build, there was no way I was ever going to be able to lift it!
And your favourite challenge?
I enjoyed all the challenges, but the two that were my favourites were the sculpture and the Mad Hatter’s tea set. I really enjoyed the design process for the Alice in Wonderland challenge using the characters as well as showing my different skills. To prepare, I watched all the adventures with my children and we discussed which characters they liked. I saw it as a children’s story and I imagined that the tea set would be for a children’s party. It was fun and playful as well as using lots of different ceramic techniques.
My other favourite challenge was Greek Week where we had to work with nude models. I hadn’t done sculpting for over 20 years, but found it really interesting. You had to observe and capture what was in front of you, it was very much in the moment and you couldn’t really prepare for it, which I quite liked.
How has being on the show changed your pottery style?
I definitely learnt I had to refine my finishing – it has to look nice from every angle. No more slapdash! At home I mainly throw, so it was good to be stretched by the other challenges and to pick up old methods that I hadn’t used for years. I think I might take up sculpting again.
How did you get on with the judges? Are you still in touch now the show has ended?
Sue and Keith were a great team, very different, but you could sense that they had a deep respect for each other, and I’ve learnt a lot from them both. I’m friends with Keith, Sue and Mel on Instagram which is really nice. Mel has left me some nice messages and has been really supportive since the show finished filming. I really appreciate that they show an interest.
How did you find the judging?
Judging was always hard, you give yourself 1000% in the time you have but you always wish that you have another 20 minutes, 10 minutes, so you can do more. Judging also meant saying goodbye to a friend, which was hard as we had all grown so close. Fortunately we’ve all kept in touch and some of us are going to do some trade shows together, which will be fun.
Did Keith make you cry at any point?
No, Keith luckily didn’t make me cry, but I am pleased that he had a tear in his eye for my Alice in Wonderland tea set.
Who were you closest with out of all the other contestants?
I loved being with all the other potters; they’re all such amazing people, so caring and supportive, with great talent. That was what made the whole experience so fantastic. We always helped each other out, we cried, we laughed and we celebrated together – I’ve learnt as much from them as I have from the challenges. During the filming there were never any bad words between us. I think we’ll definitely all stay in touch. We have a WhatsApp group and we still help and support each other.
I got really close to Claire, she’s such a fantastic person – hard working with amazing skills and I really look up to her. We complement each other really well and always had fun together.
What’s your best memory from your time on the show?
The memory I’ll treasure from the show is the time with the other potters and joy of doing what I love. The challenge that was most fun was raku firing. The fire and smoke, and the moment when I got my mummy duck and duckling out of the kiln, and they were sparkling in gold bronze and a rainbow of colours was amazing!
What advice would you give someone thinking of applying for the next series?
We have a saying in Denmark:‘Hvo intet vove, intet vinde.’ It’s much like the British saying: ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained.’ Go for it and have fun, I’ve loved every minute and met some fantastic people on the way. Life is too short, enjoy it all.
What’s next for you now?
It would be wonderful to show my work to a wider audience, and I’m planning more classes and residential pottery weekends at my studio. I’m really excited about the future and I can’t wait to see what it will bring. Winning the show has given me a boost to follow some of the dreams that I would never have dared to think of fulfilling.
What’s on your pottery to-do list?
I’d really like to collaborate with some different people and show my art to a larger audience. It could be illustration for ceramics, or art installations for commercial buildings. I’m planning to use my drawing skills more in my ceramics and am also playing with the idea of using my illustration skills for a book. Who knows – let’s see what the future brings.
What does making mean to you?
Making is everything for me. From drawing and painting to sewing and designing, I love creating with my hands. As long as I can remember I’ve been using my hands to form and shape all aspects of art. It makes me really happy to be able to do what I love as a job.
To see what Rosa does next, follow her on Instagram and Facebook, or visit her website rosawilandholmes.com. And, for more interviews with amazing makers, subscribe to Mollie Makes – it’s a celebration of creativity every single issue.