You mightn’t know Ashlee Hopkins, but it’s likely you’ve eaten off her plates. The Adelaide ceramicist has produced tableware for major South Australian restaurants including Hentley Farm, Magill Estate Restaurant, Mitolo Wines, Anchovy Bandit and New Nordic. McLaren Vale’s Woodstock Wines restaurant uses her work exclusively. She has also made custom cups for Dawn Patrol and Exchange Specialty Coffee.

“Small-batch runs of ceramics for local restaurants is definitely becoming more common than chefs serving on commercial dinner ware,” Hopkins tells Broadsheet.

“Chefs spend so much time sourcing local ingredients for their meals that it makes no sense to be serving the food on something made in China. It also creates another local conversation point at the restaurant.”

Hopkins will make her debut at Bowerbird Design Market this weekend – alongside more than 200 stallholders – but she’s no greenhorn. After studying a bachelor of visual arts at the University of South Australia, where she picked up her passion for ceramics, Hopkins completed a two-year associate’s program at The Jam Factory.

“The Jam Factory has been a major accelerator of my practice, increased my skills in a short period of time, and given me tools to turn a creative venture into a small business,” she says.

Hopkins says her stint at Bowerbird has ignited her creativity. “Bowerbird has given me the chance to sit down and create a lot more of my own products for myself,” says Hopkins. “With my own work I get to work on my own aesthetic, with my own creative voice.”

Hopkins’s ceramics blend rusticity with functionality and a splash of whimsy. She says those attending Bowerbird this weekend will see something a bit quirkier than her usual work.

“We’re talking salt dishes with legs and coffee cups with blobs,” says Hopkins. “But they’ve all got a rustic finish; they’re quirky but pared back. It is all a bit funkier than my previous work.”

Bowerbird Design Market is on Friday May 3 to Sunday May 5 at Wayville Pavillion, Adelaide Showground. Entry is $5 and children 12 and under enter for free.

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