Ceramicist Jo Everitt is a vivacious woman whose mischievous nature is reflected in her work.
Having fun is one of her main aims in life and she wants to make sure that the pieces she creates in her studio resonate with that ethos.
You only have to look at the amazing candelabras she is currently making to see that she is succeeding.
“I want there to be a certain playfulness about my work as, for me, my idea of fun is when I am in my studio experimenting and exploring new ideas. I am just completely fascinated with what you can do with clay.
“You could live your lifetime five times over and still not have tried everything,” she said in the kitchen of her home perched high up above Matlock Bath’s main street.
Jo moved to the village with her family 13 years ago around the same time as she started teaching art at Noel-Baker Academy in Derby.
The 48-year-old artist says the house needed some tender loving care when they first arrived and she had to wait five years or so before she could concentrate on creating a new studio.
“At first I used a shed at the top of the garden and that was challenging,” she said with a laugh as she pointed skywards. I could see what she meant carrying materials up that rocky slope would not have been easy.
Now though she has a small but perfect studio just outside the back door.
“There were not many places on the level here so it had to be carefully worked out,” she added.
In pride of place in the studio is Jo’s faithful kiln.
“I have had it for more than 30 years now. It was a gift from my parents when I was 18.
“They had saved up to help me and my two sisters buy cars when we were old enough to drive. I had no intention of having a car and asked for a kiln instead,” she explained.
With that nugget of information you will have guessed that Jo has always been obsessed with ceramics.
“I was about eight years old when I made a clay rabbit at school and I remember being fascinated that the clay had come out of the ground and we could turn it into almost anything we wanted.
“I then went hunting for clay at home and eventually found some in our neighbour’s potato patch and since then I have been making things whenever and however I could.”
Jo, who was born and brought up just across the border in Staffordshire, completed a ceramics degree at the University of Derby in 1996 and then studied for her art teaching qualification after she had her two children.
Now, with her family growing up, she has stepped back from all her teaching responsibilities and devotes some of her time to her ceramics.
In the last few years she has been busy exhibiting her work at festivals and fairs and her aim is to do more events so that her ceramics reach a wider audience.
“I needed to give it room to breathe a bit, and develop new ideas. I am now putting together a body of work that I can start putting out there. It really is quite exciting and of course I am having lots of fun,” she said.
Jo will be at the Melbourne Festival in September and is also hoping to be at Wirksworth Festival. Meantime you can see her work at http://www.joeverittceramics.co.uk