Geoffrey Whiting was born in Stocksfield, Northumberland. He trained to be an architect, but during a visit to India he settled in a village and worked with a family of local potters. Altogether he spent some six and half years in India assimilating the atmosphere and studying this craft. Whiting never received any professional training in the potters’ craft and since his initiation into the making of simple unglazed earthenware in that Indian village he returned to England and set up his own pottery – the Avoncraft Pottery– in Worcestershire. Here he produced pots in quantity for the domestic market, as well as single items for the collector, specialising in high temperature stoneware and porcelain. In 1972 he established a studio in Canterbury, where he also taught.
Whiting’s attitude to his craft was direct and uncluttered: ‘Of materials I try to keep very few. To have few, to know them really well and fully understand their capabilities brings breadth to one’s work. Too many extras tend to cloud issues and so have the opposite effect. Similarly with decoration. Although I have a variety of ways, I always feel happiest when I can exploit what the interaction of body, glaze and fore will produce naturally’. Of the production of single pieces he said ‘Moreover, it caters for too shallow a stratum of the community. Apart from this, repetition production, provided it is not carried to far, engenders a self-discipline in the workmanship and a humility towards clay which I doubt can be acquired in any other manner. It is also the only way of gaining real insight into form. No potter who has thrown a shape to the same superficial measurements, many hundreds of times, over a period of years, and has seen the shape change, either voluntarily or involuntarily, will fail to understand this’.
Whiting exhibited widely in his lifetime, and taught at art schools in Worcester and Chesterfield. Commissioned works included flower containers for Worcester Cathedral, and similar ecclesiastical ware elsewhere.