I am a mid career ceramic artist working in Canberra. I have an eclectic ceramics practice. I make a range of products including jewellery, tableware, sculptures, light fittings, bathroom fittings and tiles utilising a variety of hand building techniques and the potter’s wheel. I develop and mix my own glazes.
The interaction of form and function is key to my work. I make things that are fit for purpose as well as being lovely to look at and to hold. My design process incorporates consideration of how the items will be used, cleaned and maintained. I also sure that my work, such as light fittings, sinks and tiles can be installed using stand sized stings and equipment. The underpinning concept that flows though my work is the Australian landscape, its colours, shapes and patterns with a particular focus on Australian flora.
I high fire all my work to 12800 -1300 degrees Celsius. This means that the clay is is strong and durable as is fully vitrified. Vitrified clay is non absorbent, the silicas in the clay have melted together and formed a strong ceramics body that is waterproof (it cannot absorb more than 2% water by weight). My functional work is all dishwasher and microwave safe. My sculptures are small to medium sized and are high fired to be strong and durable enough to withstand the Canberra winters. They include wombats, lizards, pears, bird baths and carved dragon seats.
The tactile nature of ceramics is a guiding force in my work. I build surfaces and shapes that invite the touch. The colours, textures and features of the Australian landscape are expressed in my work through the use of soft matt glazes, echoing the pinks, greens and greys of gum trees. I also use the surfaces as a canvas for landscape scenes and botanical imagery, from photographs and drawings.
Over the last two years I have been developing a range of coloured porcelain works using the nerikomi technique, these include jewellery, dishes, lamps and home decor items. See below for more information on nerikomi. My coloured porcelain work is all about colour and pattern, from structured geometric patterning to loose organic shapes. I explore the precious qualities of porcelain, the delicacy and fineness, the luminous translucence and the pure colour response.
Nerikomi is a complex technique that take time and has many stages. The first stage is to prepare a range of coloured porcelains. The colours are added with ceramic stains and metal oxides, these are carefully blended into the soft porcelain. The coloured porcelains are then layered together to form a block, taking care to avoid incorporating air bubbles and making sure the colours are well joined to each other. You have to imagine the pattern inside the block and control the shapes although you cannot fully see what you have made until you slice the block.
It is necessary to rest the block once you have made it so that it can equalise moisture and consolidate as one piece of clay rather than many small pieces. Once the block is ready (around a week later) you take a slice of the block and you can see the pattern you have made. You need to carefully clean to slice on both sides as the colours will bleed into each other. Then items are made by wrapping slabs around moulds to form the desired shapes.
Careful drying is important as uneven drying can cause cracks, especially along the joints between the coloured porcelains. Porcelain also has a strong tendency to warp and careful handling and drying helps with this. It usually takes around 2 weeks before the pieces are dry enough for their first firing.
The first, or bisque firing, takes the pieces up to about 1000 degrees Celsius. They are thoroughly sanded with wet and dry sandpaper to remove the last of any smudged colours. At this stage the colours are not what you will end up with as they change quite a lot once fully fired. The pieces are then glazed and fired to 1280 degrees Celsius. I only glaze the inside of my vases and lampshades. Once fully fired, the outsides are polished to a soft sheen. My nerikomi earrings and decorations are not glazed but are carefully polished so they feel lovely to the touch.