Petra EmgelkeAbout Petra Engelke Tomlinson

I was born in Essen to Brunhilde and Werner Engelke. The daughter of an artist, I was naturally keen on all sorts of arts and crafts. Following initial training as a gymnastics teacher, I took a degree in Art, Textile Design. As part of my studies, I also researched Japanese and North American Indian art and crafts. My final graduation exhibition, which included textile art and weaving, but mainly featured bonsai and garden ceramics, gained me an award as the top student of the year.

Early Days

In 1985 I became self-employed as a full-time ceramic artist, based in Essen, primarily working with bonsai and garden ceramics, using three different types of stoneware clay. In the very early days I used ready-mixed glazes, but soon developed my own unique glaze recipes and my work was featured in many exhibitions in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Move to England

In 1991 I moved to Nottingham, England. At first I struggled to find substitutes for the stoneware clays I had had available in Germany, but my new workshop gave me a lot more space, with many kilns of different sizes and functions, and these enabled me to experiment further. In 1992, I married the worldwide renowned bonsai artist Harry Tomlinson. He claims he fell hopelessly in love with me, but I think it was my pots that he was in love with and that he decided it would be cheaper to marry me than to go on buying so many pots.

red and green oval bonsai pots by petra engelke tomlinson

Greenwood Gallery

To give a permanent display of our joint work, Harry and I opened the new "Greenwood Gallery" in conjunction with the Greenwood Bonsai Studio. By 1993, my bonsai pots were available through selected distributors in Europe, USA and Australia, and were featured at the World Bonsai Convention in Florida.
And nearly 20 years later, I'm still here. I operate four electric kilns, including 50-litre top-loading kilns for test firing and small items, and a 1000-litre trolley kiln; and I also operate a 50-litre gas- and wood-fired Raku kiln.

oval bonsai pot by petra engelke tomlinson