1992-94 BTEC. General Art & Design. Suffolk College.Ipswich. Suffolk.
1994-97 2:1 BA (Hons). Three Dimensional Design: Ceramics.University of Wolverhampton. Wolverhampton.

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Virginia Dowe


“I have always loved dogs, ever since growing up along side 'Tolly', a gorgeous Labrador cross Irish Setter. We had him when I was two, and I was eighteen when he died, he seemed more like a brother than a dog. I see a lot of him in the dogs that I make, along with my own dogs Vegas and Wilf.

I was brought up in a very creative home and when I wasn't drawing, I was modelling dogs from Plasticine. It was a childhood ambition to sculpt peoples pets when i grew up and I love that I'm now doing just that.

I am firstly a hound girl, but I haven't found a breed of dog that I haven't liked. I have found a few that have been a challenge to make. A dog's face can be so expressive. I love the way that repositioning an ear or eyebrow can change the whole look of a dog.

My dogs start their lives as hollow extruded tubes, which I then cut and form. Where the clay is joined I leave a torn or cut edge, which I hope, shows that I am using clay and how it's put together. I tend to let the clay and the extruder direct what the end dog will look like. For example, the clay tube may curl as I extrude it, which I will then use for the neck of a sitting dog.

Once dried, I fire the dogs in an electric kiln, then smoke-fire in a small, lidded brick built pit, which is packed with combustibles and left to burn down overnight. The spotty and patchy dogs that I produce are the result of masking areas with clay and foil where I don't want the smoke to go. I enjoy the very natural and often unexpected tones that are achieved using this method. I add glazed noses and eyes to add a bit of life. Underglazes are also used for specific breed colouring.

Each dog is hand crafted and completely unique.

After completing my degree at Wolverhampton in Ceramics, I became an artist in residence at Edgbaston High School in Birmingham. It was whilst there that I began to exhibit at various galleries, so joined a friend at her studio in Northampton and started my business in 1999. I now work from home in a converted stable, where I combine being a mum to my two gorgeous girls and my ceramics.

During my career I have exhibited in galleries across the country and my work can be seen at The Affordable Art Fairs world wide. Owners of my hounds include John Cleese and Jenny Seagrove.