LIKE many of us, the sculptor Laura Aldridge took ill to lockdown the first time round. The show she had been frantically working on for Glasgow International was due to open in less than a month when it was cancelled in March 2020, as lockdown was announced. Everything dried up.

“It was as if someone had pressed pause on everything,” says Alridge, talking to me after installing her new show of raw, vibrant, tactile ceramics at CAMPLE LINE in Dumfriesshire. “We're so used to it now, but at the start of lockdown I found it really tough to get my head around what was happening. I felt I was having some sort of breakdown. I couldn't bring myself to be in the studio and make the kind of work I had been making any more. The ideas fell away. I was really questioning things. Who needs an artwork? It was so hard to make anything in those first few months.”

In time, she decided to buy a small kiln with some money which she had from a grant. “I thought I would make pots, not for exhibition, but for people. Gifts. And then it seemed naturally that I would think of someone as I made it. It was a starting point for making a thing, with no thought of the why.”

The lack of exhibition-focused end-purpose opened up a new way of thinking. “It felt like a healthy way to work. The pots started small, but they grew and grew,” she says, her pots becoming something more sculpturally modular, made in sections out of different materials, from plastic to plaster. Soon, she outgrew the kiln.

The people she made for were sometimes friends, sometimes artists whose work she admired. One was made for a friend whose mother had died. “I didn't mean to make an urn, but it's the only pot that's closed. And the realisation that I'd made an urn felt really quite emotional. It just happened. Thinking through making... I don't tend to know exactly what the pieces will be like when I start.”

The urn will definitely be handed over to her friend, she tells me, although others may not. “My gallery get quite cross with me if I give things away,” she laughs.

Aldridge knows, too, that not everyone can afford “a huge pot”, so she also makes a lot of small things and uses them to test her burgeoning collection of home glazes, with which she has been wildly experimenting during lockdown, after deciding that using ready-made glazes was “almost a betrayal of these pots on which I'd spent so much time.” She tests her recipes on everything to hand. “My dogs have quite exceptional bowls with crazy glazing!”

Alridge, who often in her practice, as many contemporary artists, designs something then sends it to a fabricator to be made, found the process of making the whole object herself from scratch again very liberating.

“I enjoyed getting back to physically making more myself and not relying on someone else. More interesting things happen when you do it all yourself...I learn when things go wrong, and the lovely thing is I can make decisions along the way.”

Aldridge was lucky, she tells me. She had her own studio to work in, although she soon keenly felt the lack of her “day job” of running workshops, often working with artists with disabilities, something which she has recently realised is a central facet in her work. The resulting works are immediately arresting, alternately bulbous and bulging, bold, awkward yet pleasing, organic, tactile, colourfully glazed, deeply felt. Alongside ceramic, they might contain hair nets or plastic bags, as in the large scale, bright sculptural form, “Comparing my insides, to other people's outsides (that's your freedom)” (2021) or the plastic netting of the wall-based “Things that soak you”. Such new banner works of ceramic and fabric, plastic and wood, some with pseudo wind-chimes or mobiles protruding from them, some draped in layers of material, hang from the walls around the sculptural forms and plinths on the floor.

“There's definitely been a shift in my work and my approach,” says Aldridge, who tells me she now feels much happier. “I'd had a tough couple of years working through problems in the work, and I feel like a year of solitude, however hard it's been, and a year with no external pressure – and then realising that the pressure I felt I put on myself anyway – has allowed me to crack things open and push things through.”

Her next project, once she has recovered from installing this, and the show now open at Kendall Koppe in Glasgow, is a monograph on her own practice that encompasses a catalogue, an interactive pdf and a six part audiobook – in Aldridge vein, an assemblage of conjoined parts.

Laura Aldridge: sumVigour, CAMPLE LINE, Cample Mill, Cample, nr Thornhill, Dumfriesshire, 01848 331 000, Until 29 Aug, Thurs - Sun, 11am - 4pm by prebooked appointment, or drop in 1pm-2pm, no appointment necessary