Contemporary Art, Furniture & Craft Gallery · Licensed Café

Jack Doherty

Soda-fired porcelain

We look forward to announcing our next major collection of Jack Doherty’s porcelain vessels.  If you would like a notification when Jack Doherty’s work is available to view online, please let us know on

A highly eminent ceramicist whose work shows nationally and internationally, each of Jack’s timeless vessels is a pleasure to behold. To view the pots from his exhibition in 2018 please scroll down this page.  If you have slow reception please wait for the images to load. They are worth it! These works are not currently in stock.

Irish potter Jack Doherty lives and works from his home and studio in Mousehole, Cornwall, overlooking the sea. He makes porcelain vessel forms that are thrown on the potter’s wheel then carved and shaped when the clay is soft to reflect the fluidity of the material and physicality of making. The elemental colour and surface texture are created by the fusion of fire and soda in the intense heat of the kiln, leaving behind a subtle palette of smokey grey, lemon, russet and turquoise.

Over the years his working practice has become simpler and more refined in the belief that stripping away the unnecessary can produce work with complexity and depth. His work is made using one clay, one colouring mineral and a single firing with sodium bicarbonate.

Jack is particularly recognised for working in porcelain, a complex medium known for its delicate fineness and translucent nature. Whilst enjoying the soft sensual qualities of the clay, the purity of the whiteness accentuates the simplicity of form with minimal adornment or decoration. Porcelain is, by reputation, the most difficult and capricious clay to work with making demands on the sensitivity and skill of the maker.

Jack’s pots are not glazed in a traditional sense. A smooth thin layer of liquid porcelain slip containing copper carbonate, as a single colouring material, is applied to the thrown and altered forms before firing. The copper mineral produces the characteristic blue and turquoise colours particularly associated with Jack’s work.

Jack has evolved his practice to use using only one single firing technique. Soda firing is a mix of chemical reactions and personal alchemy. The exciting process involves dissolving sodium bicarbonate with water, which is then sprayed into the gas fuelled kiln at high temperature. The vapour is drawn through the kiln chamber where it reacts with the silica and alumina present in the clay during the white heat of the firing  to create a rich patina of surface texture and colour. Firing with flame and soda is a dynamic way of making ceramics where the kiln is an exciting and essential creative environment.

The resulting vessels combine a finely textured, painterly surface with a seductive palette of turquoise, lemon, cool grey, and russet orange, often showing ghostly shadows of vapour trails from other neighbouring pieces, sprayed and fired beside them in the kiln. For Jack the kiln is both a practical tool and a creative space. His family groupings of vessels consider how objects can be positioned in a confined space to develop dynamic relationships between the forms and fire.

Born in Co Derry, Jack Doherty studied at the Ulster College of Art and Design in Belfast as a painter, but after a visit to Lucie Rie’s studio he decided he wanted to make pots for a living. On graduating, he worked at the Kilkenny Design Workshops before establishing his first studio in Co Armagh.  Later he relocated to Herefordshire.  From 2008 – 2013 Jack was the first Lead Potter and Creative Director at the refurbished Leach Pottery in St Ives, Cornwall, where he established the production studio and designed a contemporary domestic range of soda-fired tableware.

As a potter and ceramic artist he has gained an international reputation, exhibiting extensively in the UK and abroad.  His ceramic vessels are represented in many public collections including the Irish Contemporary Ceramics Collection at the Hunt Museum, Limerick; the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin; the Ulster Museum, Belfast; Potteries Museum, Stoke-on-Trent; Liverpool Museum; Cheltenham Museum; Castle Museum, Nottingham; Mashiko Ceramics Museum, Japan and Princeshof Ceramic Museum, the Netherlands.

In 2016 he received the Janet Mansfield Memorial Award in recognition of his work with soda-fired porcelain. He currently works independently from his home studio in Mousehole and is resident potter at the Newlyn School of Art where he fires his gas kiln.

Jack Doherty has done much to promote and raise the profile of contemporary ceramics through lecturing, writing, curating exhibitions and organising conferences. he is a fellow and former Chair of the Craft Potters Association of Great Britain and was a founder member and Chair of the organising committee of Ceramic Art London for twelve years. He has been guest editor and a consultant to Ceramic Review magazine. His book, Porcelain, was published in 2002 by A&C Black. Most recently Jack has enjoyed travelling to Japan, China and Taiwan where he was invited as artist in residence and showcased his work at the Mashiko Museum of Ceramic Art and Fuping Pottery Village, Xian.

Sadly none of Jack Doherty’s pots are in stock any longer. If you would like a notification when his next exhibition is ready to view online please phone us on 01308 459511 or email us on


The ceramic forms I enjoy most are often simple shapes that come from pre-history. Vessels and containers that in their time were essential to survival, storing food and keeping people safe in this world and beyond. My visits to Japan have shown me something of the immense diversity of contemporary ceramics practice but have also enriched my understanding of how traditional and spiritual values can be inspirational in a changing technological world.