Ceramicist Hayley Bridgford creates a beautifully organic aesthetic in her domestic ware pieces. Her weighty, textural pieces can be found in discerning eateries like Gemmayze St, Hugo’s Bistro and Williams Eatery, and she’s also created custom pieces for other friends of Mahsa, like Katie Lockhart for Deadly Ponies, and Sans [ceuticals].

Hayley and Mahsa first met after Hayley purchased an Everyday Shirt. Mahsa fell in love with her new customer’s work, and commissioned pieces for the label’s showroom. “I love Hayley’s glazes and how simple her forms are,” she says. “Her pieces add to my everyday life and elevate any occasion. Eating from her work is always such a pleasure.”

We photographed Hayley and Mahsa at the studio where Hayley works in Auckland. 

Ceramicist Hayley Bridgford
Hayley Bridgford

Mahsa: When did you start making pottery?

Hayley: I started making pottery when I was 15. I lived up the road from Auckland Studio Potters in Onehunga and my sister and I did night classes. I am lucky to be able to say that Peter Lange was my first teacher. I made funny little dishes that my mother still has and uses. I then worked for a potter in Wellington before starting the Diploma of Ceramic Art in Dunedin in my early 20s.

Mahsa: What inspires you then and now?

Hayley: I was inspired as a young child through visiting relations who lived in West Auckland, in Waiatarua. Whenever I visited them I was drawn to the banks of clay in their back yard. My cousin and I would make little clay pots and animals. As manager of Auckland Studio Potters, inspiration comes from the vast array of work that I see daily coming through the centre.My main inspiration however is getting outdoors, tramping, camping and being by water. The colours of the New Zealand landscape and wildlife have become my palette.

Mahsa: What does a typical day look like?

Hayley: A typical day for me is getting up before my teenage kids to ensure I get a bitof ‘me time’ to start the day. I do a 15 minute meditation, then make coffee and if I’m on top of things will go for a half hour walk.After getting the kids off to school, I head in to ASP where the day will kick into gear very quickly. I work alongside two amazing women who help make my days run smoothly. We organise exhibitions, classes and workshops, fire kilns, support our amazing tutors, facilitate artist residencies and generally make sure the ASP pottery family are being looked after.

I love my workplace and feel honoured to be at the helm of this community for this phase of my pottery career. At the end of the day its picking kids up from sports practices etc then home to homework, cooking dinner, a glass of wine, and always a bath before bed with a book. Essential! On my days off I try to get into the studio to do my making, or head to a beach or the bush.

Mahsa and Hayley discuss
Hayley with one of her ceramic mug creations

Mahsa: What do you like wearing while you work and when you're out in the world?

Hayley: When I’m at work, I am very casual; a necessity as I’m guaranteed to get dirty. Jeans, work boots, and warm tops! Pottery studios get very cold in winter. Fingerless gloves are often part of my work wardrobe. When I’m out, I generally like to wear shirts, suit jackets and pants. I like to be comfortable! Mahsa Everyday shirts are my favourite and I have a collection of colours. I’m also a sucker for good knitwear. This summer I want to start wearing more colour!

Mahsa: Who inspires you?

Hayley: I am very inspired when I get out of my routine and visit creative friends around the country. I love seeing the spaces that other artists work out of. I’m inspired especially by women who are forging careers from their craft/art and who have a genuine need to create. Their work embodies this need and I tend to get very excited and a bit creatively manic :) when I have spent time with these friends.

I also have two wonderful friends who have recently become directors and heads of important Auckland art institutions. They are very inspiring to me and I imagine to the next generation of young women artists. My three intrepid sisters all inspire me in different ways too.

Hayley's dog
A Mahsa printed garment

Mahsa: What’s a favourite meal?

Hayley: A slow cooked Tuscan ragu and pappardelle. With lots of anchovies.

Mahsa: How do you drink your coffee?

Hayley: Stovetop espresso with milk, honey and Mother Made mushrooms. The AM blend! I have had to start drinking decaf to counteract my full days.

Mahsa: Where is your dream holiday spot?

Hayley: My dream holiday spot right now would be somewhere in Spain. It’s a country I have never visited and after holidaying there I would ideally do an artist’s residency at The Potters House in Mallorca. Pottery heaven. Then a quick jump over to Portugal perhaps. Failing that… Mexico with the family. :)

Mahsa: And finally, what’s your dream project?

Hayley: I have been lucky to work on projects with a lot of amazing top New Zealand chefs, architects and designers. A dream project for me now though would be a project with no deadline, no real planned outcome, just the time and space to create the work, which might be coming next for me. I’m ultimately wanting to explore more conceptual work while also continuing to fill commissions of functional ware.

Mahsa and Hayley Bridgford
Ceramicist Hayley Bridgford at Auckland Studio Potters

Listen to Hayley's playlist

See more of Hayley's work

Kate van der Drift