Spending more time at home has meant many of us are more attuned to the details of our living spaces. Having greenery, art and items that are both functional and beautiful throughout your space can make a big difference. Whether it’s something you eat and drink out of, grow living things in or simply admire as an individual piece of art, ceramics are permanent fixtures that speak as much to our tastes as to the rich philosophy of their makers.
Like other independent producers, Victorian ceramicists have seen their business suffer during recent covid restrictions. But you can support them – and add some lovely texture and colour to your home ¬– by ordering from them directly. As restrictions ease, there are even a few studios you can visit in person. In partnership with the Click for Vic campaign, which encourages Victorians to buy from Victorian producers, here are five local ceramicists to consider for your next piece of usable – or just plain beautiful – art. All their work is handmade, and many can be commissioned.
Grace Brown, Oh Hey Grace
Evoking the intricate visual puzzles of M C Escher and the blocky quaintness of traditional adobe houses, Grace Brown’s work draws the eye and holds it. Using a mix of wheel-thrown and hand-building techniques, the Northcote artist invites us to explore staircases, arches and rounded windows on a miniature scale, either in standalone sculptures or within functional pieces like vases and planters. Candelabra and oil burners use the play of light to bring out a warm, new dimension in the quirky, subtly layered pieces. When the time comes to browse in person, check out her pieces at these local stockists.
With a zest for whimsical shapes and colours, Collingwood’s Tantri Mustika puts her own twist on mosaic-like terrazzo tiling for her current collection, which includes vases, dishes and planters. Her ceramics have a strong through line of soft colours, earthy texture and harmonious shapes. Mustika hosts specialised workshops on the traditional Japanese technique Nerikomi and has recently branched out into video tutorials. Workshops will resume in late October.
Britt Neech, Clae Studio
After getting a degree in fashion and textiles at UTS, now Melbourne-based Britt Neech began devoting herself to ceramics, founding Clae Studio to showcase the versatility of clay as a medium. Using coiling and slab building techniques, Neech makes streamlined, subdued pieces that enhance the intrinsic beauty of humble curves and contours. While Clae Studio tends towards functional pieces like made-to-order heirloom vessels and the Zen collection’s necklaces and incense stones, her current series Shape and Shadow Studies is made up of framed stoneware-and-glaze art for hanging. When restrictions ease, you can see Clae Studio product in person at Trit in Abbotsford.
Emma Jimson, Pom-me-granite
Emma Jimson and her carpenter husband Jim started Pom-me-granite in the Cobaw Ranges near Kyneton, organically mingling her functional ceramics and his commissioned woodworking. With Jim now working full-time as a builder, Emma’s work has been drawing from the serenity of the surrounding natural world and their shared interest in fermenting. Jimson makes crocks for storing kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi, as well as pickle pots and cheesemaking forms. She even pays tribute to the business’s name with adorable vases that look exactly like whole pomegranates and hosts ceramics workshops in her picturesque rural studio. When restrictions ease, in-person workshops will resume.
Leaf and Thread
Taking direct inspiration from nature’s bold colour palette, Laura Veleff gives her distinctive glaze collections evocative names such as “dessert”, “glacier” and “morning mist.” Those atmospheric glazes are sure to suit the plant life that occupy the planters and vases she makes in her East Brunswick studio. Even the name Leaf and Thread points to the importance of plants and folk art, while her sustainable work uses fibre sourced from a Swedish eco label and clay dug from nearby South Australia. Veleff also uses local, recycled materials for packaging her pieces for shipping. When restrictions ease, you can visit the studio on Barkly Street by appointment.