Who we are...
Doug Watson, Director
In 1976 Doug Watson set up his tile studio with the aim to produce hand painted tiles of the highest quality based on traditional techniques. With a degree in Art History and training in all techniques of painting and print-making, Doug was in a good position to adapt these skills to the varied demands of making tile designs and tile panels for whatever situations that may be required by a client.
Born in England, Doug had always intended on being a painter and chose to go to University in the USA, where he could combine the academic study of Art History with practical courses in painting and printing. Following this, Doug’s sister, a formally trained ceramicist, taught him a range of techniques and they began working together developing and refining new techniques, largely based on historical references. Based in his Oxfordshire studio, Doug began designing and painting tiles specially to order, demonstrating an impressive range of styles, from neo-classical and medieval through romantic to naïve.
Doug’s painting is characterised by its vitality and by a powerful sense of colour. As an artist he is also notable for his sheer versatility; he is willing to work from almost any point of reference. Over the years, Doug has worked on a large collection of mural designs, using references as diverse as a museum window to a plate from a Victorian children’s book. But these are in no sense ‘standard’ works, instead they are a starting point for the client’s specification, designed and painted to order, often to fit a specific area.
Beside running the tile studio, Doug works as an abstract painter. See douglaswatsonart.com.
Janet Watson, Director
Janet, Doug’s wife, was originally trained in textiles. She left a successful career as an art teacher to join the company full-time in 2003, and has been a Director here ever since. Janet has managerial responsibility, including training staff, client liaison, developing glaze and experimenting to create new and bespoke colours. With her interest in plants, gardens and landscape she has designed and painted many individual tiles and panels in these subject areas.
Neil Farmer, artist and studio manager
Neil became a part of the DWS team in 2013, and has an intricate knowledge of every aspect of the business; from his accomplished artwork (especially panels), right down to the practicalities of installation, bringing with him his skills as a master tiler.
Fran Davidson, artist
Fran joined DWS in 2014, working primarily on the decoration of the tiles. Having a degree in 3D studies she has been able to apply her knowledge and creativity to all aspects of the handmade tile production.
Fran’s favourite designs to paint are; Alchemicals and Delft Animals. She is particularly skilled at painting the Venezia and Calico designs, mastering the art of producing the ‘slip’ surface for the Fresco finish.
Ava Caldecott, artist
Ava, joined us in 2014 after leaving college. She became very skilled in painting tiles, and especially enjoys painting the Delft flower series and many patterns. We can also rely on her to work with clients as well as dealing with many other aspects of the smooth running of the business, such as packing and shipping.
Ruth Galloway, artist
Ruth joined us in 2017. She has been a professional artist for almost 30 years, specialising in children’s book illustrations. In 2004 she was the winner of the Portsmouth Book Award, and in 2005, the Experian Book Award for her illustrations to her story, “Smiley Shark”. Her drawing and painting skills transferred easily to individual tile painting, as well as panels. Her research into antique Delft tiles added several series to our collection.
Chris joined us in 2016, having had extensive experience in historic building restoration. With his training in the arts, including sculpture and mould making, he has been able to contribute important skills to the studio, and with Neil, is responsible for all aspects of tile production, and general maintenance of the studio.
Morty has been with us since early 2020 after leaving university in the Netherlands where he studied maths and physics. He is involved with tile making, kiln loading, glazing and packing as well as numerous essential tasks which support the manufacturing process. He is also studying a part time course on model design and has been working on the wheel learning to throw pots.
Sarah can be relied upon to come in when necessary to glaze tiles and to help with loading and unloading kilns, supporting the work of the painters. As a volunteer for the National Trust she enjoys the artisan approach of our studio.
Our most recent member of the team, with an MA in English literature, Carly has all the communication skills and experience required to liaise with clients and to help in the smooth running of the business. Carly, Neil and Ava are are the people our clients will speak with and rely upon to organise their orders.