Mandy Dodd - Monty Don's Real Craft

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Mandy Dodd - Monty Don's Real Craft

08 October 2014


Talented Ceramics student of ours Mandy Dodd, will be appearing on the craft show ‘Monty Don’s Real Craft’. We caught up with Mandy to find out more about her and the upcoming show:

 “I’ve always had an interest in art but have been restricted in what I can do because of my battles with Multiple Sclerosis. I’ve had it for years and my major symptoms are pain and fatigue which makes it impossible to do quite a lot of things; but with a bit of help and a lot of determination, thankfully, ceramics is not one of them.

My love of art was cast aside in 2010 when supporting my family through a terrible state of shock and grief after the death of my 18 year-old son Matthew, became my priority. I also undertook caring for my severely disabled mother, after she had three major strokes, until this became too much for me due to my own health issues.

It then wasn’t until a friend of mine, who had tried the ceramics course, said to me to give the course a go; that I got back into art. And I have to say that working with clay has acted as a therapy for my MS problems and for my grief. At times it has been a lifeline.

When I attended the taster session I was immediately struck by the huge enthusiasm Mark Whitaker, the course tutor, showed for the subject and all things clay. On the strength of that I enrolled for the full course on the spot. Since then I have completed multiple ceramics courses with the support of Mark who has helped to develop my interest in the subject into a passion.


This has given me a new focus. I even have my own studio at home with a potter’s wheel and kiln, and carry a sketch book with me so I can design pots and decorations any time. My illness does dictate when and how often I can work on my ceramics, but I have been able to get a grade A in my AS Level in 3D Materials (Ceramics) and am hoping to get an A* in my A2 course.

I’d had several emails from different clay societies I am involved with, asking for participants for ‘Monty Don’s Real Craft’. I was interested in the prospect but it was my daughter who persuaded me to fill out the online application.

The process of being picked was exhausting; I really had to prove myself and open up to the production team about every aspect of my life, and provide endless examples of my work. Putting myself through it, made me realise how much I wanted to do it; it was too good an experience to fall at the last hurdle. I was later told that the other participants and I were chosen from a possible 7,000 applicants to take part in the show.

After I was picked, and my GP gave me the ‘all clear’ to do it, I was off to Whichford Pottery where I met Jim Keeling, his son Adam and the team for the challenging start of filming. It was a great experience with completing various challenges and learning new skills; and it’s this experience that has showed me how much I want to work with clay professionally.

We had three days of filming with Monty Don and had several meals out with him too. He was a very lovely, genuine person (even after nicking my chips) and has a real passion for traditional craft.

I learnt a lot during my four weeks at Whichford Pottery, but if it wasn’t for the courses I have done at Bracknell & Wokingham College, this amazing opportunity may never have been opened up to me. Ceramics have taken over my life; the pleasure I had when I was able to eat cereal from the first bowl I made, was immeasurable. Making practical, useful and beautiful things with your own hands is a liberating experience and the support you receive from the tutors helps you to grow as an artist – and all that on a college course!”

You can catch Mandy in ‘Monty Don’s Real Craft’ on Monday 12 May on More4 at 9pm.

If you are interested in studying any of our leisure courses at the college please visit or call us on 01344 868600 for more information.

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