Recently our studio has been incorporating a sort of ‘cross pollination’ between different forms of design & craft, exploring how it affects our understanding of architecture and spatial design. Scott has been working with stone, wood and bone, shaping and carving it into beautiful forms, and I have been exploring the world of pottery and clay. It's like artistic play - permission to start at the beginning, to make mistakes, learn new techniques and feed our creativity.
My interest in clay and pottery was inspired by the idea of working with a material used in vernacular architecture since the dawn of construction. Rammed earth, bricks & tiles have been all around for centuries. It has also been an important part of daily life – with archeological evidence of crockery dating from ancient civilisations. There is a fascination with the process of creating form and space out of a simple malleable material made from earth and water. With so many parallels between pottery and architecture (evident by the many ex architects that have turned into potters!), I am enjoying seeing my own craft in a new light.
Clay can be shaped into unlimited forms. Then, when subjected to heat, is transformed into something that has the potential of an enduring legacy. The nature of clay means it has certain properties that must be respected. It must go through many different stages before it is finished into something beautiful and functional : wedging, throwing, trimming, glazing and the fire of the kiln, where you don’t have full control over the outcome. There are always some surprises that come out at the end of the process. It’s actually a little like architecture in that respect, it keeps you humble! The balance between art, science and functionality also has parallels with architecture – there is a beauty in something that is both functional in our daily lives – whether a cup, a plate, a house, a room – but that also brings joy to your everyday through the experience of its proportions, beauty and ease of use. The means of shaping a lump of earth and looking at the science of the decoration/glaze that will create a functional and beautiful item that has the ability to last generations is very powerful indeed.
Then there is the intuitive side – the process of throwing on the wheel where you need to both shape the form into something beautiful, while respecting the materials qualities. The skill and the process required to achieve a goal of apparent effortlessness takes time and practice. It's a steep learning curve but one that reminds us everyday that there are new things to learn and experience in life, and that we only learn these lessons when we move out of our comfort zones. We are always growing and evolving as people and as practitioners in different crafts, that means the discoveries are endless – it is a lifetime journey… and that’s exciting!
If you would like to play with clay, there are many local workshops that offer lessons. For example in Auckland a few options for the next terms classes are:- The Clay Centre Ellerslie Uxbridge (Howick) Auckland Studio Potters (Onehunga) and Ceramic College (Bayswater)
For more information on our lovely (patient) tutors, you can find their amazing work here:
Good Girl Ceramics (Eloise) https://www.goodgirlceramics.com/
Custom made dinner sets and table ware, and pottery lessons.
Rachel Carter Ceramics https://www.rachelcarterceramics.com/
Handcrafted objects to enhance the rituals of everyday life.