Mark of the Maker: Interview with ceramicist Jake Boex

Oct 2, 2023

Porthleven-based artist Jake Boex has created a unique range of ceramics for our Member Café in preparation for our opening. Members and guests will be able to enjoy their Foundation Coffee in one of Jake’s beautiful mugs, while admiring the view which inspired their design. 

We visited Jake in his ceramics studio on the Cornish coast to find out more about his work and sources of inspiration, and what it’s like to be an artist living and working in Cornwall.

Firstly, tell us a bit about the ceramics you’ve created for us.

I was asked to produce a large number of coffee mugs for use in the café at the new co-working space. I immediately liked the concept of Bayspace as somewhere local people could grow their ideas – I see it becoming a catalyst of creativity in all sorts of fields, fuelled by lots of coffee of course. 

So, I wanted every piece to be unique, like each of the individuals who’ll be using the space to do interesting things. Every piece is hand-thrown and therefore slightly different. 

I also wanted the pieces to have a vivid connection to the natural world. Having visited the building, I know that the view is this huge, vital presence. The subtle glaze of the ceramics brings the seascape and the horizon quite literally into reach.     

Do you enjoy making this kind of domestic ware? Or did it get a bit repetitive!

I think functional pieces like this can be ‘art’ too! After all, Bayspace is a short stroll from Leach Pottery, where Studio Pottery acquired a new status thanks to the work of Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada. 

My sculptural work explores form, light, glaze and texture, and these pieces do the same. If anything, there’s the extra challenge of getting the functionality right – no one wants a coffee mug that fails ergonomically! 

Do you look for inspiration in the work of other artists?

Mark Rothko was a big inspiration for me growing up – there’s several works by Rothko in the permanent collection at the Tate Modern. Standing in front of them you get this feeling of stillness; it’s the same feeling I get now when I’m in the ocean looking towards the horizon and my thoughts kind of fall away. I try and integrate that sensation into my work, both in the glazes as the colours transition, and in the forms themselves. 

What’s the best and most challenging thing about working in Cornwall? 

The landscape and seascape here are endlessly inspiring, we’re very lucky to have pristine places all around us. The colours of the land and sea as the seasons change influence my work, and the air quality is so clear everything just seems more vivid somehow. I’m sure that’s why so many creative people are shaped in Cornwall or drawn to live and work here. 

On the downside it sometimes feels quite remote, especially when you have to travel to galleries in London and elsewhere, but I guess that’s also part of its appeal. 

What do you do in your downtime?

I like running, walking, swimming and surfing, but don’t get the wrong impression – I’m also a committed sitter! I’m quite happy finding a spot on the coast path and simply taking it all in, finding stillness, observing, and appreciating nature. 

Do you have any good tips for our members exploring your neck of the woods? 

Porthleven is a fun place to be right now. There’s lots of quirky cafes and bars, a good community feel and great walking and swimming on the doorstep. 

I like Nauti But Ice for a coffee overlooking the harbour, and Shoals Brewery taproom is a good spot for a beer and a pizza. 

Now that Bayspace is open, we have exciting plans to work with local creatives and businesses in various ways – keep up to date over on our Instagram feed.