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The Studio at Shakepeare Street
The Studio at Shakespeare Street

A Potted History by Tracy Wright

1. Several Bottles of Wine Later                         
Maggie's father was able to make wine out of just about anything. I believe it was a fine plum variety with an alcohol content of about 80%, that all the house hold students were consuming late one night in our final term at Bretton Hall College. We were all discussing our futures.  Maggie was thinking about teaching courses and I was planning to work in a museum or gallery.  We both thought it was a good idea to earn some money to enable us to do what we really wanted, to make and sell our own art work. Suddenly we were struck by an idea. Why not work together in a partnership?  We discussed the idea into the early hours, helped along by the plum liqueur and amazingly in the harsh light of day, it still seemed like a good idea.

Inside The Studio
Early work Inside The Studio
2. Co-op to Co-op
The reality of setting up in business was more difficult, as on finishing college with two degrees in art and design and lots of skills and enthusiasm, we still had no clear idea how to survive in business.  Fortunately we were lucky enough to get money from the Enterprise Allowance Scheme, a couple of grants from The Prince's Youth Business Trust and an equipment grant from our Local Council.  This help was invaluable as it provided us with funds to set up a business in an old Co-op shop in Shakespeare Street in Lincoln.  We called ourselves simply 'The Studio'. Exactly five years later we moved to Waddington and found ourselves next to another Co-op.

Outside The Studio at Stonecott
Maggie and Tracy outside the Studio at Stonecott

3. The Haunted Cottage
Our new business premises was situated in a cottage many centuries old, with a new shop built in the garden.  Almost immediately strange things started to occur, beginning with odd disappearances.  Over the course of several months fifty odd pens vanished from a particular room, along with items of food.
Eventually we got some help from a spiritual potter friend, who said he felt the presence of an amiable, but mischievous ghost.  I told him the friendly spook was welcome to stay if it desisted from pinching our belongings.  Since then, we have all got along fine. Our move coincided with a name change, so we became 'Zoo' to give ourselves more of an identity and it fitted better with the new direction our work was taking.  After many years experimenting with designs and ranges, we started to concentrate on building up a body of animalistic work.

At a Craft Show
Maggie and Tracy at a Craft Show
4. Pictures and Prison 
We exhibited our work at art and pottery craft shows around the country and attended trade shows, in order to sell directly to galleries and shops.  When you are self-employed one of the hardest things to adjust to, is an irregular cash flow, so in the early years Maggie and I became usherettes at the local cinema and theatre.  We probably still remember all the lines to Ghost and Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.  Later we took on various teaching positions and for many years we jointly ran the pottery department at the local men's prison.  It was very rewarding work, as clay has a very therapeutic quality, which our students appreciated.  Eventually, as the orders and commissions started to increase, we were able to concentrate fully on our art work.

Prince Charles and a Dodo
Prince Charles and a dodo

5. The Prince and the Dodo
During our business  career there have been certain incidents that have elevated our position and made us realize our potential. One of those occasions was meeting His Royal Highness Prince Charles, on a Princes's Trust sponsored Birmingham International Trade Fair.  For awhile I had been making penguins, swans and chickens, but I had always wanted to diversify my range.  His Highness focused on a new dodo that I designed. Sometimes it can be very rewarding to try out a completely new idea and really challenge yourself. Images of Prince Charles and the dodo went all over the UK and generated commissions as far away as the Channel Islands.

The Emmerdale Chicken
The Emmerdale Chicken
6.The Emmerdale Chicken and the Sixteen Foot Bath
Other interesting work followed with an order from a se designer of Emmerdale, who requested a cockerel wall plaque and a large speckled sussex hen.  For many years these pieces never appeared and must have been kept in storage.  Recently some customers spotted them in Jack Sugden's kitchen.  (The large hen appears near the kitchen sink.  Fame at last!)  Maggie had an odd request from an interior designer, for three of her zebra headed pots, which were to feature as centre pieces for a bathroom.  We wondered who would want three identical large sculptural pieces in a bathroom, but on hearing that the bath lone was over sixteen feet in length, we were no longer surprised; we were amazed.

The Lincoln Christmas Market
Maggie and Tracy at the Lincoln Christmas Market

7. A Victorian Romance
People always seem impressed that a female partnership has lasted so long.  We were presented with an award for being in business for ten years,but I secretly thought it was given to us for being in a rarely surviving female partnership.  Of course it does not seem so unusual to us, but it must be difficult for others to cope with relationships, marriage and children.  We are very lucky in that respect, for we have a good working relationship and are next door neighbours.  Maggie also married wisely by choosing another self-employed designer, Tom Betley from Rusticraft Garden Furniture.  Maggie met Tom at the famous Victorian Lincoln Christmas Market.  She was dressed in blue velvet and lace and he looked like a top hatted vampire.  Well it takes all sorts.............and all sorts is exactly who we deal with at this present time.

Trade Show
Trade Show Display
8. From William Morris to James Joyce 
Over the years we have supplied many different outlets with our work from John Lewis, Zoo shops, Garden Centres and many Galleries including James Joyce's The Turn of the Tide in Devon and William Morris of William Morris Interiors in Staffordshire.
We get a lot of satisfaction from making our work and passing it on to people who appreciate the time and effort that has gone into each piece.
In the Gallery section you can see some of our most popular designs and on the Demo page you can view the creation of two pieces of work.