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Interview with Peers Award winner Richard Godfrey

Congratulations to Richard Godfrey who at Art in Clay in 2013 was voted the winner of the Valentine Clays Peers Award for best contribution to the festival by fellow exhibitors.  Richard is well known for his pioneering development of brightly coloured slips and his use of innovative construction techniques, and his unique style inspired by the Devon coastline makes his work highly collectible.

Richard was presented his award in July at the 20th Art in Clay which had been created by the previous year’s winner Matthew Blakley. Following the presentation we had a quick chat with Richard on how it felt to have received the Peers Award. "I was completely shocked when they announced it as last years show, the nice thing was that Robin Welsh came to my stand to distract me beforehand by talking about my work, so I was facing the stand when they announced my name, as I turned round I saw all of my friends so it was very emotionally. I am quite an emotionally person but I found it hard to hold it in.

"You go through life when you are creating pieces with a hope that you are doing something of value and worthwhile because sometimes it feels you are not really doing anything of any value and just messing about with mud. Someone once commented to me that the most important thing is that you are making people smile. I try to generate something in my work that does exactly that.

"The nicest thing for me is when my contemporaries commented on how much they like my work, it's always a surprise. It generates a warm feeling, it makes the whole thing special in a way that is hard to define.

"I love Matthew Blakely's work and have known him since he first came from Australia. We were next to each other at the first show he ever exhibited at in this country and I thought his work was really special even then. I have seen it develop and love what he is trying to do with raw materials; it's very close to my heart as I make all of my own slips and glazes too. I love the idea of alchemy. It's a very important part to make sure that you understand the materials and the clays used so you can create something that is for you. It's harder to create an identity if you don’t.

Commenting on the moment he was presented his award Richard said: “It was a total surprise when he handed the piece to me I wasn't expecting it, 30 minutes before I was standing at his stand telling him how much I liked his work. A nice piece of serendipity....he is such a nice guy.

Richard was clearly very moved by the huge support and recognition that he received from everyone at Art in Clay and finished with a lovely comment: “It was really special anyway but to be handed it at the 20th Art in Clay, your peers are the people who know what you are trying to do so to get their approval and accolade is very special.”