Bionic People: Joy Kent
BIONIC PEOPLE: JOY KENT
A life full of contrasting experiences, Joy Kent shows how, by following your passions, you can enjoy travelling the world, base a successful career on helping people, have a complete change in direction, and even return to one of your earliest creative passions.
It’s a pleasure to share Joy’s story because, it truly shows why following your passions are key to enjoying a contented and rewarding life. It’s also a wonderful reminder that at any point in life it’s possible to change direction and add exceptional new chapters to your story.
In the interview you’ll find out about Joy’s business that helps people and organisations, and also her exceptional ceramics that are in many ways visual representations of Joy’s highly creative free flowing mindset.
In January 2017, after nearly 20 years in the charity sector, I decided I wanted to make a change to how I lived my life. I set up my own business – Joy Unlimited – and gave myself more time to return to something I’ve loved from the age of 14 – ceramics.
I’m not averse to change, in fact during my life I’ve craved it. But this was big; giving up a well-paid, rewarding, job to enter unchartered waters. Thankfully, it was the right move. Joy Unlimited gives me the opportunity to help people and organisations identify their strengths and build on them, which in turn gives my life purpose and meaning; and making ceramics is a wonderful way to be totally absorbed in a creative process.
Two books influenced my life change hugely: Daniel Pink’s Drive and Paul Mason’s Post Capitalism: A Guide to Our Future. As you would imagine from the titles, they are very different; what they share are interesting insights into the relationship between personal fulfillment and the world we live in. I’ve built Pink’s key elements of motivation – autonomy, mastery and purpose – and Mason’s description of a portfolio lifestyle into a personal experiment. So far, so good!
What drew you to your passion/interest?
My two passions are helping others and being creative. The former has shaped my working life and the latter was on the back-burner as a result, despite it being a big part of my life when I was young. In terms of what drew me to them, I wonder whether gender socialisation is a big part of why women in particular get so much from helping others, and with ceramics – it was the only subject in school that interested me apart from English!
Was there a particular moment when you ‘discovered' your passion/interest?
I fell in love with pottery when the option came up at school. I used to stay late to carry on and I went to classes in the evening. I also used modelling clay at home. Helping others is less of a happy story. I was the main carer for my mother after my father died when I was eleven. I remember a cousin telling me at his funeral, “you need to be the grown up now and look after your mother.” I took a probably throw away comment seriously.
What is the most interesting moment in your life?
Standing on the border between Brazil and Paraguay during a total eclipse. It had already been an amazing trip of huge contrasts but standing in such unfamiliar surroundings with a group of strangers, the sky getting dark and everything going silent – it felt like the world had stopped. Then the birds starting singing again, the light returned and we all breathed again and smiled at each other.
What do you think makes a person interesting?
I’m quite nosey and I love new experiences so I find most people interesting. I like listening to people talk about what they’re really into – especially if it’s something I don’t get!
Who are some of the people that fascinate you?
Owen Jones – I sat next to him at a dinner once and there’s a picture of me with him where you can see how happy I am to be in his company. Yanis Varoufakis – I’ve read his books and like Owen Jones, I am in awe of his principles, knowledge and expressive and precise use of language. Artemisia Gentileschi: she was an Italian Baroque painter. She was raped by her teacher and this horrendous experience was compounded by one of the earliest recorded rape trials. Her work and her life were amazing for so many reasons but the fact that she carried on and produced such wonderful and powerful paintings despite everything is incredible.
If you could meet anyone (past or present) who would it be and why?
Emily Davison. There was a lot written to discredit her so it’s very difficult to get to the truth. Her family life was also very different from the norm and I assume must have influenced her thinking. It would be fascinating to meet her.
What is the most interesting possession you own?
I have a piece of pottery from Brazil. It’s glued together in places and I’m very wary of touching it but I love it. It’s a traditional folklore piece from the North East from a tiny village I visited which produces pottery that shows everyday scenes from life and local history. My piece depicts a family leaving the North East to go South in search of work.
If you could make one change to your life to make it more interesting, what would it
Writing about Brazil has made me want to go there again!
Which brand do you find most interesting, and why is that?
Obviously Bionic Iconic but similarly, any brand this is built on passion. (Thank you Joy!)
Care to share something interesting you’ve never shared before?
I recently heard on Radio 4 that the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 that killed between 25 and 50 million people was only called Spanish because the Spanish government was first to discuss it publicly. In other countries, because of it coming at the end of the First World War, they didn’t want to say anything and cause alarm. The result was that Spain got the blame!
What is your all-time favourite piece of art, design or fashion?
Running away with the hairdresser by Kevin Sinnott. It’s sometimes on display in the National Museum. If I’m in the vicinity with half an hour to spare, I go and sit in front if it for a while. I still haven’t decided what I think the story is but I love the look of excitement, freedom and escape it portrays.
The following gallery shows you a small sample of Joy's ceramics. Do follow her on Instagram to see more.