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Q + A | KATRINA CARLING - UNEARTHED CERAMICS

THE STORY OF YOUR PRACTICE

I have always been interested in ceramics, and in 2014 I travelled in Asia, visiting some local ceramics workspaces, and purchased an antique Raku fired teapot in Bangkok. That whet my appetite thinking I might like to make these beautiful objects myself one day. A follow up trip to Denmark a couple of years later sealed this fate with getting to experience the Danish ‘hygge’, an inherent requirement of considered design in all facets of their lives. I also wanted a change from my Interior work, so this gave me the opportunity to get my hands dirty, doing something completely different.

My design background is in Interior design having graduated in 2001, and I ran my own business alongside having three children.

I signed up to do a course at Carlton Arts in 2015, and was hooked pretty much from the start. There was a wealth of knowledge there from not only the teachers but other fellow practising potters, and I loved everything about the making of ceramics. It was wonderful to be creating with my own two hands and the journey is always expanding, as well as humbling.

My husband and I created a studio in our garden bungalow that had recently been evacuated from an adult child, and I have fully transferred into working from that space for a couple of years now, after travelling three times a week into Carlton for several years. The studio is a work in progress, and has changed as my business has grown to accomodate that..I think it will always be changing as the space is quite limited, so everything in there has to earn its right to be there, and be purposeful.

I hope that my work brings soul and joy to those that buy it. They are my principles.

My studio is home to my wheel, Skutt kiln, open bench space, buckets of glaze and buckets for recycling clay, and shelving to house my work at the various stages of ceramic making. I have to work around my kiln firings, and use those firings advantageously to dry work as well. I listen to a lot of music and podcasts whilst working out there, and also enjoy stopping all excess noise and taking in the surrounding sounds of birds singing and children playing next door.

Style and influences.

I hope my work just speaks for itself. I am always experimenting, and I really hope to make honest and aesthetically pleasing objects that people can use in their lives, sharing with family and friends. Using handmade objects is enriching, and brings another level of joy when they are just part of your daily rituals. Something about the weight of a handmade plate, or cheese platter dish gives a different meaning to what you are doing. I do not have an academic background in the craft, so I think it would be honest to say that I am just conscious of simple lines and glazes that either tell the story of the piece, or enhance it.

Working with my clients is extremely rewarding, and it gives me as the ceramicist, great satisfaction to have input from the customer. I often personalise my pieces for people with a name/date/message on the back, and I love doing this to make it really special for the recipient. Functionality of my work is paramount, as is uniqueness and originality, and I hope my work worthy of being passed down through the generations.

 

I am very interested in interiors and architecture, very aware of people’s spaces and when they function successfully, so I hope that this sensibility is useful when making commission pieces for specific homes. 

Sustainability.

I hope that my intentions to create a relatively sustainable practise is always evolving. I have solar to run the kiln, recycle and re-use all clay, use environmentally friendly wrapping choices, pay a yearly fee to off-set my carbon footprint my car creates, and am an active contributor to Clay Matters, a grass roots group that is interested in sharing sustainable practise knowledge.

Your process.

 

This answer really depends on the project at hand. I recently made three pieces, an oversized platter, a pair of candlestick holders and a vase for a client, for three specific places in their new ‘forever’ home. Something for ‘here, here, and here” was the sweeping request. This gave me the lovely freedom to respond to the space, and the location which was in Echuca. I made the vase with a lovely serpentine design on it, to reflect the ‘meeting of the waters’ which is the indigenous name for the area, and tied in landscape lines that reflected the area from an aerial view. The other pieces were tied in with glaze similarity, and scale and it was received with tears and heartfelt thanks. The client was exhausted from making so many choices, and her appreciation in the thought and care that were imbued in the ceramics was palpable. Needless to say that was extremely rewarding, and firmed my intuition that the beauty of ever extending what ceramics you can make and dream of, is truly valid.

I am driven to have freedom in what I make, and want to experience from trial and error to learn from what I do! Ceramics is mostly learnt from the latter! My mind is always somewhat consumed by ceramics, and making them, and it’s endless possibilities. So much to learn. I walk by the Merri creek most days and this gives me time to take in the lovely surroundings, and nut out ideas to take back to the studio.

 

The future.

I am currently preparing for an exhibition with 11 other well known ceramic artists in November. This will be held down on the Mornington Peninsula, in collaboration with a winery and run by Three Day Clay. This is my first time working with them, so it’s a complete unknown and I feel very thankful to have been asked to exhibit with a crew of such passionate potters.

I have recently installed three phase power to my studio, so will have a greater capacity to play and experiment with different firing methods so I am excited about that. I’d say that will keep me out of trouble for at least 30 years. My goal is to foster great relationships with my stockists, and continue to make pieces that are authentic and that make people love them. It’s truly a gift to be able to craft with my own two hands, and I am forever thankful for my family for encouraging and supporting me in this little dream of Unearthed Ceramics I am pursuing.