Our series of photographic portraits by Neill Menneer shows Bath people at work

I hated school and left at 16. After a stint at St Godric’s secretarial school in Hampstead and some time in Bristol I eventually went back (with my husband in tow) to Dorset where I was born.

I trained in physiotherapy and worked in a community hospital for 18 years. I started a pottery class just for fun at the local college of Art in Poole. After two years though I won a prestigious City and Guilds competition. It was called Futures 100 and the prize was an incredible £10,000 bursary. This set me on my present path as I was able to buy a kiln and other equipment. It also gave me the confidence to take ceramics more seriously and so applied to study full time.

I went to the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, Surrey and worked in the evening to pay my way. My first job was here in Bath. I applied for a residency at Kingswood School and they kindly threw in the accommodation which had the most wonderful views over the hills and far away. My job was to encourage the students, teach them to break the rules, be creative and take chances. It was a very happy two years and I’m now pleased to call Bath my home.

I came here without my husband, but Bath is wonderful for single women as there’s always so much to do. You can go to the theatre for £5 (if you are happy to queue) and the galleries and music (often free) are second to none. I’m now at the Bath Artists Studio on Upper Bristol Road which is a great resource. It provides studio space for many different artists (54 members) working in all media. It has a strong community feel which is supportive and friendly. I truly believe that a healthy creative sector is vital in improving economic and cultural assets in Bath. Without this affordable space I would not be able to work and exhibit. As it is so important to me I became a trustee to support the organisation and ensure that it continues to provide education services and a creative haven. It is a registered charity and aims to advance the education of the public in the arts.

I work from the studio where Neill took this photograph and from there I have been able to contribute to many different exhibitions around the country. Recently I had a joint show at Swindon Museum of Art and last year won the Pangolin Prize.

I also teach from my studio on a one-to-one basis and carry out workshops for various schools and organisations including Age UK and Action on Hearing Loss. At the time of writing I am teaching the heads of art in Wiltshire schools techniques to pass on to their students.

My work is inspired by landscape and particularly the Jurassic Coast, found objects, urban destruction, architecture and artists such as Tapies and Chillida. I use exciting and unpredictable techniques combining porcelain, slate, corrosive materials and minerals. I use the kiln as a kind of time machine to scar and erode my pieces. Carpe diem, or seize the day, as they say!

PORTRAIT: NEILL MENNEER AT SPIRIT PHOTOGRAPHIC. VISIT: CAPTURETHESPIRIT.CO.UK, TEL: 01225 483151.