“The best compliment a potter can receive is to be told they’ve made an ‘honest pot’.”
So says Borgh’s resident potter, Sue Blair, a craftswoman who’s spent four decades developing her distinctly Hebridean style of stoneware: simple, straightforward and robust.
Just as the Lewis landscape is carved by the winds and waves that batter its shores, Sue’s career has been shaped by a stubborn insistence on following her own path, despite well-meaning attempts to discourage her.
“At art school I was told ‘you’ll never make a living as a studio potter’. Instead, the emphasis was on careers creating forms for factory production. But I knew I wanted to make pots the old way – by hand. Being told it was impossible only made me more determined!”
That tenacity has resulted in the thriving studio you’ll find on Lewis today: the strength and independence of the island mentality mirrored in the functional forms and muted glazes of Sue’s creations.
“Making pots requires a steady hand and a clear mind. I’ve lived, worked and walked these islands for so many years, the colours and textures of the landscape seep into every piece I make.”
The light-filled pottery was fully refurbished in 2015, allowing Sue to integrate the seasonal ebb and flow of daylight into her work. Seascapes, earth tones and rockpools are all elements of her recent pieces and in Sue’s words she’s
“Still learning – learning all the time. That’s what makes anything in life truly worthwhile.”
Sue first arrived on the islands in 1973 and founded the pottery in Lewis a year later with her partner and husband, Alex, who worked alongside Sue until his death in 2013. She holds a degree in Ceramics from Aberdeen’s Gray’s School of Art. Sue says: "Borgh Pottery as it is now, evolved through and from our partnership."