The ceramicists supplying your favourite Manchester restaurants
We’re writing this article because we’ve been thinking about plates a lot. Mentally spinning them. Ceramics on the brain. We’ve been thinking about plates, bowls, cups, ramekins (you name it) because lately, when we’ve been eating out, we’ve been noticing how great the ceramics are. Has this always been the case? Are ceramics having a moment?
The answer is: yes. For multiple reasons. You can’t underestimate the power of a TV show called The Great British Pottery Throw Down in all of this. Nor the power of Instagram. Photogenic food needs photogenic accessories and as seen from the popularity of the wider craft movement, people (and restaurants in this case) want to invest in a better product that they know has been made with care.
In case you’re not already aware, plates are important. Cutlery is too of course but this isn’t Sheffield Confidential so we’re not going to delve into local steel.
Plates and the vessels that your food is served upon make a big difference to your meal.
There’s science that backs this up. Whole books have been written on the topic. The Bill Bryson-endorsed Flavour: The Science of our Most Neglected Sense by Bob Holmes and The Perfect Meal: The Multisensory Science of Food and Dining by psychologists Charles Spence and Betina Piqueras-Fiszman are two especially good ones.
Notable takeaways include: round, white plates enhance sweetness whilst black angular versions do the same for savoury flavours. Funnily enough studies have shown that red plates reduce how much diners eat (we can’t possibly think why). Research is yet to be done into the effectiveness of Wetherspoons blue.
Of course ceramics don’t have to be some sort of scientifically-planned, efficient, flavour-enhancing tool. They can also be aesthetically pleasing, hand-made pieces of art. You like to know that your food has been made by hand with care, so it’s a bonus to know the plate it comes on was made locally with similar attention to detail and craft.
With that in mind, here’s a selection of ceramicists making the plates for some of your favourite restaurants in Manchester. Many of which you can buy for your own kitchen.
Northern Quarter coffee and doughnut fiends will be familiar with the colourful plates Alice Merida Richards makes for Siop Shop. A member of Manchester Ceramics Collective, Alice has also created ceramics for the likes of Grapefruit coffee in Sale and is part of Plates, a collaborative supper club concentrating on ceramics and food (featuring fellow ceramicists Sarah Fraser, Sarah Baines and Sarah Crosby.) The group is currently working on a commission for Where The Light Gets In. Alice also facilitates experimental ceramics projects with Venture Arts and The British Ceramics Collective.
Bolton-born and raised ceramicist Danny Smyth is a Manchester-based ceramicist working out of Wellington Studio in Ancoats. Mostly working in wheel-thrown ceramics, his work incorporates other mediums including painting, drawing and printing. Danny’s work has been exhibited across the UK and Ireland and he has most recently worked with The Yellow Rice Co on a small batch of bespoke mugs.
If you’ve walked through Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter on select Sundays you’ve probably already had a chinwag with Dylan. A market regular, Dylan was made redundant from his previous job in 2021 and started making ceramics quickly to pay the bills. He’s gotten very good at it since and divides his work between teaching, markets and commissioned work. Dylan’s ramekins can be found at Tender Cow at Mackie Mayor, Altrincham Market and he has previously worked on specially commissioned work for The Cartford Inn near Preston.
Salford-based Ian Wild, who founded Fire Station Square Pottery with his wife Ange, has quite the rock and roll pedigree. A former sound engineer for the likes of The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets and James, Ian still balances his sound engineering alongside pottery but the latter has since taken centre stage. Ian collaborated with Adam French on ceramics for his appearances on The Great British Menu and he also supplies Little Window at Altrincham Market.
Manchester-based designer and one of Stockport’s upcoming Yellowhammer bakery and pottery concept trio (alongside Rosie Wilkes and Sam Buckley) is one of many supplying the beautiful ceramics at Stockport’s Where The Light Gets In. As well as duties with Standard Practise urban studio and city gardening project Plant Noma and Grizedale Arts, Joe finds time to make scalloped plates and serving platters, as well as various pieces of crockery, for Levenshulme’s ISCA Wines from his garden. Many of which are available to buy in-store.
“What Matt does with porcelain is basically the impossible” is a telling quote from Rebecca Morris describing her fellow Manchester Ceramics Collective collaborator (the two have previously worked together on pieces for The Edinburgh Castle). Former The Great British Pottery Throw Down contestant Matt Cronshaw is the man behind Little Torch Ceramics, with Matt since specialising into porcelain. Matt’s stemmed porcelain wine glasses have been exhibited at Collect Art Fair at Somerset House and he has also produced works for the likes of Erst and Trove as well as collaborative pieces with It’s Alive wine shop.
The MCC, not to be confused with the MCU, is a Manchester ceramics Avengers, of sorts, bringing together twelve of the city’s best ceramicists and potters under one roof. Working from a studio close to Old Trafford, the collective only formed in 2018 but has gone on to create ceramics for a host of award-winning chefs and restaurants across the region including but not limited to The Moor, The Edinburgh Castle, Erst, Ducie Street Warehouse and Siop Shop. The collective hosts classes, events and regular opportunities to get your mitts on beautiful ceramics with sample and seconds sales, details of which can be found on Instagram.
Half shop selling local fine arts and crafts and half pottery studio, Altrincham’s MOSS is a creative space championing all things craft with a host of ceramics and pottery classes available for all abilities. As well as teaching pottery and ceramics, owner Oli Stanion also designs and creates the ceramics for Simon Wood’s fine dining restaurant, Wood. Oli and Simon work collaboratively on each piece from plates to spoons and coffee cups, with the dishes themselves inspiring the ceramics they’re served on.
Bowls with a vivid ocean blue spot at the bottom are just a few of the seemingly, simple but nonetheless eye-catching (upon further investigation) pieces from Nabe ceramics. Potter Jessica’s ceramics journey began with a six-hour taster session at a local studio and she was gone on to produce specially commissioned pieces for exclusive Manchester sushi spot, Umezushi. Nabe ceramics has since supplied the likes of Another Hand and Jessica is currently working on a new collection that will soon be available to buy.
Community artist, gardener, chef and potter, is there anything that Meg Beamish cannot do? Resident chef at Platt Fields Market Garden, Meg also runs community pottery workshops out of the market garden working with the natural clay which is found on-site. She cites the importance and health benefits of bringing people together in creative practise as part of the motivation for her work. For her personal work, Meg works uses a pottery wheel in her garage in Whalley Range and has created hand-crafted bowls for Rainy City Ramen at Feel Food Club as well as other works that are often available to buy from Platt Fields Market Garden.
One of the founding members of Manchester Ceramics Collective, Rebecca has produced ceramics for the likes of The Creameries (recently providing pasta bowls for Campagna), Aiden Byrne, Feed General Store as well as especially notable work for Eddie Shepherd’s The Walled Garden, who she continues to collaborate with. Keep an eye out for her work at Sugo’s upcoming Sale restaurant too. Rebecca was taught ceramics at school in St Helens by none other than Johnny Vegas and came back to the craft later in life setting up a wheel in her kitchen. Her work which includes everything from plates to pestle and mortar, vases to wax diffusers is available to purchase on her website.
Keen eyes will recognise Charlotte Bishop’s work from this year’s Great British Menu. Brazilian chef Caroline Martins of The Sao Paulo Project pop-up was keen to work with a local, female artist on the ceramics for her dishes and spotted Charlotte at a market. The rest is food TV history. Charlotte’s work, which channels themes of the ocean, shells and blissed out pastels is currently available on Etsy, with plans for further collaboration with Caroline in the future.
Cover photo by Louis Cannel
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