Using porcelain I love to make sentimental objects that are rich in detail, playful and familiar.
The common thread throughout my work is a connection to my own personal history. From a young age my parents and grandparents encouraged an interest I had in always wanting to make stuff with my hands. Along with my brother Christopher they continue to provide me with great love and support. I grew up on a farm in the wheat belt of Western Australia. My mother Daphne, a piano teacher, filled our home with wonderful music.
I started my formal ceramics and design training with Bela Kotai, at the Western Australian School of Art and Design, Central Tafe. In 1994 I commenced a conceptual Visual Arts degree at Curtin University, majoring in Ceramics and Sculpture.
In 1997 I moved to Tasmania to do Honors at the University of Tasmania in Hobart under the supervision of Penny Smith. I shared a studio with Angela Mellor. With their wealth of knowledge and focus both Angela and Penny inspired me to make major developments in my work. In my Honours year in Tasmania, with a fascination of musical instruments of all kinds I began building a series of sound instruments. Using combinations of porcelain, metal, wood and found components these instruments explored the possibilities of sound through ceramic media in a way that encourages audience interaction on an audio, tactile and visual level. The principal aim was to create cast ceramic forms that were capable of generating sound, and which, through their aesthetic and textural quality, invited an intimate tactile response.
I returned to Perth, Western Australia in 1998 where exploration of sound in my work continued through a series of doorbells. Each doorbell began as antique glass bottles found partially buried in a paddock on my family’s farm. In our family, this pile of detritus is more commonly known as the Bottle Tip. Each doorbell is a combination of porcelain and mixed media and features altered slip cast porcelain bottles that have been cast from the found bottles in order to make sound.
From 1998 to 2000 I enjoyed teaching ceramics at Curtin University School of Visual art. In 1999 Perth hosted the National Ceramic Conference and it was while I was demonstrating at this conference I met two great mentors of mine. Canadian Ceramist Trudy Golley and Janet Deboos, head of ceramics at The Australian National University. Janet Deboos invited me to be visiting artist in residence in Canberra for 3 months in 2000. This experience was the catalyst for my journey to Canada.
I traveled to Canada for a year to work as ‘Artist in Resident’ at Alberta College of Art and Design with Greg Payce, Katrina Chaytor and Amy Gogarty. Without question 2001 -2002 has been the most influential creative period in my career. I began exploring the internal spaces of form and the way sound describes internal chambers that are unable to be seen. This lead to a series of organically derived sound funnels in porcelain and soft fabrics.
Spending time working along side Greg Payce and Katrina Chaytor broadened my perspective and appreciation of hand crafted utilitarian ceramic objects. I learnt how the daily ritual of pouring from a handmade teapot and drinking from a wheel thrown cup enriched the dining experience.
I will continue to enjoy making ceramic objects that can be used in the home for the rest of my life. Clay has a wonderful knack of reflecting the maker and the environment it is made in. Everyday my eye is drawn to objects that provide us with individual recognisability, especially those essential objects that are instrumental to our daily rituals. I relish the discipline required and the challenges presented in making an object functional.
A decade on from my introduction to functional cermics in Canada, I continue to enjoy the quiet place in my head that making usable objects sweeps me away to.
I met my soul mate Richard Hill in 1993. An inspiring scientist with a great passion for Geology, Richard is my greatest source of inspiration and continues to provide me with a deep sense of love and self belief. In 2005 having traveled extensively throughout the world going where ever our careers would take us, we returned to Perth. Convinced of the value of ceramics in the community, we launched SODA – International Ceramic Residency Program. It’s a new environment that makes life interesting, but it’s the people we meet along the way that gives life meaning. SODA – Sculptural Objects and Design Australia, is an International Ceramic Residency in Fremantle, Western Australia. The facility hosts visiting artists from across Australia and around the world where they can develop work in a privately run clay studio. Visiting artists also have the option to spend time working and researching at the SODA remote forest retreat at Hamelin Bay – one of the most stunningly biodiverse and pristine wilderness frontiers in the world. For more information go to www.sodaresidency.com
Since 2005 and the birth of our daughter Heidi I have been exploring narrative in clay. The teapots I make have evolved to become a canvas to tell Heidi’s story, and at the same time convey a tacit message of an imaginary world in which we can all recognize ourselves. Like a page from a children’s book the gesture between a little girl and a bird resting on a teapot encourage us to reflect apon innocent childlike experiences. I love to think back to those precious beginnings when my days on the farm were consumed with play.
In 2006 I received Australia Council funding allowing my work to take a major shift into the construction of Tableux of ceramics and mixed media. I spent time exploring child like figures in clay…so began ‘The Excellent Adventures of Heidi and Kilbey’.
Heidi reacquainted me with the magical world of children’s books and this was all the inspiration I needed for the work I have been building for a children’s book featuring our two children Heidi and Harry and our Kelpey Collie Poe.