Crafting Enterprise meets Made in the Middle

Helen and Zoë Hillyard

"I like Zoe's work because she creates unique patterns. Her work reminds me of Mandala patterns, each one of them is a completely different design." Helen
  • Zoe 3.jpg Incomplete Toile Vase, 2013. Silk, ceramic and thread. Photo credit: Zoë Hillyard
  • zoe 4.jpg British Museum commissioned Shakespeare Pear Vase, 2013. Silk, ceramic and thread. Photo credit: Zoë Hillyard.
  • Zoe 1.jpg Brighton Cravat Patch Vase, 2013. Vintage silks, ceramic and thread. Photo credit: Zoë Hillyard.
  • IMG_2202.JPG Helen's artwork inspired by the work of Zoe Hillyard, 2017. Pastel on paper. Photo credit Helen Tomkins.
All Students

What made you decide to be a designer maker?

I had worked in industry as both an embroidery and knitwear designer for a number of years after graduating.  I then became interested in the role of craft within overseas development and spent a year teaching and designing before returning to the UK.  When I did, I found I wanted to rediscover the identity of my own work and this led to me developing 'ceramic patchwork' after a period of creatively experimenting.  Although it is new work, it was inspired by my experience of living abroad (in Mongolia) and picked up many of the themes that have always interested me: material combinations, recycling, building structures, colour and pattern.

Are you inspired by any other artists?

I am inspired by lots of makers - artists, designers - really anyone who makes beautifully crafted things.  I recently exhibited at COLLECT in London and loved the work of David Bielander - he has created a series of jewellery from silver and white gold, that looks like it is made of corrugated cardboard - a brilliant play on material transformation!

What future plans and ideas do you have for your work?

Lots - wait and see!  I have recently begun to work with 'kiln cracked' pieces, putting to use the pieces of work that ceramicists make but that don't survive the firing process.  It is lovely to be able to work with shapes that have been made by hand by craftspeople that I admire.  The first series of these pieces are being exhibited in Craft at the Bay Gallery, Cardiff, Wales.  I worked with pieces donated by three makers for this collection and hope to make further series.