TOVI SORGA - printed leather June 30 2017

Makers at the Workhouse Gallery

At the Workhouse Gallery we work with makers from across the UK and we especially enjoy working with inspiring designers and craftspeople such as Tovi Sorga.

Tovi Sorga

Founded by artist and leather jeweller Tovi Sorga, Bristol based accessories brand Tovi Sorga produces some of the finest leather finishes available today. At the heart of the work are rich, delicate prints.The unique printing technique, honed by Tovi over the past decade, helps create the unparalleled depth and richness for which his work has become reknowned.

Tovi Sorga

Avoiding the flat, often mechanical effect of much digital printing on leather, bold colour is fixed in such a way as to allow high definition and range. Celebrating Tovi and his partner Agnes Davis’ love for nature, purses, wallets and journals are covered with flowers from an English summer and a Dutch spring, the impressions of lace and decoupage roses. Vibrant charms cut into the shape of butterflies and fish are printed with wonderful accuracy, mimicking the natural creatures themselves.

Dutch Spring Tovi Sorga


Dutch Spring Wallet (available at The Workhouse Gallery)

Butterfly keyring Tovi Sorga

Marmaduke Butterfly keyring at The Workhouse Gallery

 Tovi Sorga Octopi journal

Octopi journal

Working from their studio in the vibrant hub of Bristol’s Stokes Croft, Tovi designs and works with his partner, Agnes Davis. Agnes is a writer by trade, and a poet at heart, but fell in love with Tovi and his work when they met several years ago.

Tovi Sorga Agnes Davis
Their creative partnership has led to new developments for the business, with Agnes taking on the web-design, photography, PR and marketing which enables Tovi to concentrate on meeting the ever-growing demand for their collections.

Texture and a craftsman’s adoration for material are key to Tovi’s work. The finest leather hides are selected and treated by Tovi himself to achieve his trademark ‘buttery’ texture.

Tovi Sorga leather suede

Tovi prints the leather using a digital process, and crafts his products on a hand turned vintage Singer sewing machine – one of the most essential tools in the trade to achieve absolute accuracy and control.

Tovi Sorga sewing machine

Traditional leather craft tools and techniques are then applied to create a hardwearing and luxurious finish. It’s a particularly difficult process to achieve success with, as the durability of the surface, tactility of the leather and definition of the design all need expert handling to achieve this superb finish.

Tovi Sorga leather

Tovi Sorga
Tovi’s work has become well known around the world. He has received commissions from the Royal Academy and Rijksmuseum, and also undertaken collaborations with other creators, including corset designer, Lisa Keating, tebori tattoo artist, David J Watt, and wallpaper designer, Juliet Chadwick.

Essential to Tovi and Agnes’ creative ethos is the sustainability of their work. Tovi only uses leathers that are recycled as a waste product of the food industry, from trusted British suppliers, who meet strict European standards of animal and worker welfare. Leather is carefully sourced to create as low a carbon footprint as possible. Packaging is British-made from recycled and biodegradable materials wherever possible.

English Summer Tovi Sorga

English Summer wallet at The Workhouse Gallery

Trout keyring Tovi Sorga

More about Tovi Sorga here


Makers at the Workhouse Gallery
At the Workhouse Gallery we work with makers from across the UK but we especially enjoy working with local craftspeople such as ceramicist Malcolm Turner.
Raku by Malcolm Turner at Workhouse Gallery Presteigne
Raku by Malcolm Turner at the Workhouse Gallery
Malcolm's pottery is nestled in a wooded valley in a disused quarry near Knighton. "When I found a place to build my kiln I discovered that the locals called the place Smokey Quarry, or in one case, Smokey Dragon. Too good to waste as a name for a wood-fired kiln that is more than a little 'dragonish'."
Malcolm Turner Smokey quarry
Smokey Dragon Pottery Malcolm Turner Wales Ceramics
Malcolm also has a a potters wheel and a small electric kiln in a shed behind his flat here in Presteigne. "I can make work here, bisque fire it and then transport it to Smokey Dragon where I glaze and fire it".
Malcolm Turner Ceramics
Malcolm Turner ceramics
Malcolm has been building kilns and making pots for over 40 years, and his work employs the dramatic Japanese technique of Raku. Pots are fired to a high temperature and removed from the kiln while they are still glowing hot, then quenched in cold water and sawdust. Sometimes explosive reaction to this thermal shock produces crackle patterns in the glaze and a rich black in the uncovered clay.
Raku ceramics pottery
Raku ceramics Malcolm Turner Presteigne Wales
Raku waiting to be fired
As well as making Raku pots, Malcolm has a wood-fired kiln in which he produces a wide range of high-fired work.
Kiln wood fired Malcolm Turner ceramics
Malcolm, "Actually 'work' may not be the best word for what I presently do. In the past I sat at a wheel and made hundreds of pots for domestic use. I still like to use the wheel and I never make just one pot at a time but now I am free to play and experiment with a range of techniques. I suppose I'm a lucky man!"
Malcolm Turner ceramics Wales
Malcolm Turner ceramics
Wood fired pottery Malcolm Turner ceramics
Malcolm is presently making some porcelain pieces for the next wood-firing. All photos are from his Instagram account, with thanks.


Makers at the Workhouse Gallery

First in a series of blogs about the makers who inspire us. Here at the Workhouse Gallery we work with craft makers and showcase and sell their work. We choose thoughtful, sustainable and beautiful pieces which are expressed through dedication to method, materials and design.

James Burnett-Stuart is a local potter who produces seemingly simple rustic pottery but which is, at the same time, sophisticated and beautiful. 

James Burnett Stuart at the Workhouse Gallery Presteigne

James trained at Harrow College from 1986-8, having originally done a degree in English Literature at Cambridge University. He made ranges of tableware for shops and galleries including The Conran Shop, Designer’s Guild and Egg. His work from this period was frequently featured in magazines such as World of Interiors, Elle Decoration and Country Living. James has held solo shows of more individual pieces at The Scottish Gallery (Edinburgh), Egg (London) and Charleston Farmhouse (East Sussex). James was also Artist in Residence at Charleston. From 1999 James took a ten year break from pottery and concentrated on other things including drawing and painting. He started making pots again in his beautiful workshop at Lower Way Farm near Kington in 2009.

James Burnett Stuart

James Burnett Stuart

"I like the way pots enter our lives stealthily, benignly, and exert their quiet influence. As companions, offering beauty, comfort, practical service, sensuous experience all in a modest almost subliminal way. This is the beauty of pottery - that it lives side by side with us not calling for attention, and not provoking self-consciousness. But allowing, as it were, by slow release, discoveries of depth and detail" - James Burnett-Stuart.

James burnett stuart

"All my pots are, as always, made from red earthenware clay which is slipped with a lighter coloured clay, and glazed, possibly with a second layer. Many pots are thrown and often altered immediately – for example scalloped or fluted. Increasingly I like making pots free-hand or with simple wooden moulds. This enables one to make pots that aren’t round."

James Burnett Stuart Workhouse Gallery Wales Herefordshire

James Burnett Stuart gallery Presteigne Workhouse Bamfords

"I hope have taken some influence from local hedgerows and weather, as well as certain types of Japanese and European pottery. They are of a scale – my preferred scale – that invites being picked up, felt and used" - James Burnett-Stuart.

James Burnett stuart Workhouse Gallery Bamfords

James' work is available to buy from us at the Workhouse Gallery. Please email us if you are interested in a particular piece.