Non-binary potter crowned triumphant winner of The Great Pottery Throw Down
Scottish non-binary potter AJ Simpson has been crowned winner of The Great Pottery Throw Down, describing their victory as “life-changing”.
“I don’t know what the future holds for me in the pottery world, but I am more motivated than ever to make pottery and enjoy every minute,” AJ, a graduate of Gray’s School Of Art at the University of Aberdeen, told the Press and Journal.
“I hope that one day I can make pottery my day job. I want to introduce more people to this amazing medium and help to teach and facilitate more people making with clay,” they added.
If you’re unfamiliar with the format, The Great Pottery Throw Down is basically a clay version of The Great British Bake Off, with contestants competing to be crowned Britain’s next top ceramic superstar. Each week they’re asked to transform lumps of clay into beautiful pottery, with various challenges and twists thrown in for good measure.
AJ is not the first trans and non-binary representation on the show, either – in 2021, a talented trans potter from the Netherlands joined The Great Pottery Throw Down as a pottery technician.
Rose Schmits joined when previous technician Rich Miller was promoted to judge. The role is largely behind-the-scenes but plays an influential part in contestants journey, with Rose overseeing the final firing and contestants taking their final pieces to her kiln towards the end of the programme and entrusting them to her expertise.
AJ won over the public after 10 weeks on the show. Their win was “an amazing moment”, the 22-year-old said. “It was a whirlwind of emotions and I was so happy to have my family there and all of the potters in the beautiful set up in the courtyard,” AJ continued.
“I have just turned 22 and I do feel like this has been a life-changing year for me,” AJ said. “I came into the New Year with so much more confidence and more friends. I had graduated from university, won the series and moved into a new flat with my partner Celda.
“There has been a lot of change in my life, but it’s all looking good and positive – the future is looking exciting for me, definitely.”
And while anti-trans hostility has reached dizzying heights in the UK in recent years – in the media, politics and public – AJ received overwhelming public support during their time on The Great Pottery Throw Down.
“The response from the public and social media has been so positive the whole way through and it has been so nice to get messages from people online that they are enjoying the show,” they said.
“I have had great messages from non-binary people all sending encouragement.”