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Q + A | REBECCA WISBY - RAW

The story of your practice.

How did you get into your practice? 

 

I’ve always had a sense of being a creative. Over many years I have dabbled in all kinds of different mediums and soaked up numerous courses and classes. I hadn't worked with clay since high school but took a taster class about four years ago and was completely hooked. I enrolled in night classes and then the studio program at SoCA in Brunswick. I bought my own wheel and have been slowly putting together a home studio. 

 

What’s your design background? 

 

I loved art in high school but took all the science classes so I could major in Marine Biology at Uni. I haven't formally studied art other than short courses and classes with another local makers. Im a Kindergarten teacher and trained Doula, which brings in the biscuits to live off. 

 

How and when did the practice come into being, and how has it evolved over time (if at all)? 

 

Since initially sitting down behind a wheel about four years ago Im getting a sense of my skills and interests growing and diversifying. To begin with I focused on form. I threw heavy bottomed wabi sabi vases, with thin rims and glazed them all white. I wanted to highlight shape and was probably a bit overwhelmed by the complexity of colour and glazes. Now I make all kinds of useful objects for everyday rituals. I make cups, mugs, bowls, plates, planters, paint pots, incense holders, jars, butter bells and candle holders. I have been throwing and hand building with black midfire clay and playing with abstract painterly ways of glazing. 

 

Is your practice informed by any specific set of values or principles? 

 

I enjoy working in the moment and just going for it. Ceramics and making in general offers me an incredible sense of freedom and play. It’s an investigation into finding out what the clay and I are capable of, amongst the vastness of possibility. Lifelong learning and personal growth are themes I value and I find ceramics to be a wonderful companion for both. There can be quite a bit of problem solving and inquiry, which I also enjoy (as long as I’m having the regular win too). 

Function is important to me in the work I make, I want my pieces to be useful as well as beautiful. But not necessarily perfect, symmetrical beautiful but honest loveable beautiful. 

 

How does your studio or workspace function in the day-to-day?

 

My creative/ workspaces are fairly domestic in a way. There’s a bit of pinching cups at the dinner table and boxes of ceramics drying through the house. I have my little kiln under the carport outside. I love that our almost three year old son sees me making and is curious about the process and materials. Im definitely not working in a vacuum. I have space to get messy but access can be an issue. Working with clay is super time sensitive, especially while its drying and needs to be trimmed and turned. If you miss the window you often loose the work. 

I attend the studio program at SoCA on a Friday, which feels incredible luxurious. A whole day to spend in a mind tingling, mix up of practical tuition, art history and philosophy. It is an amazing community to learn and grow as a potter. 

 

Style and influences.

How would you define your work?

 

Wonky, loveable, useful objects for everyday rituals. 

 

Do you see your work as belonging to any particular style or tradition?

 

I mostly think of my work as belonging to the style of me. I can see how I’ve moved through phases of making certain things, using certain clays and glazes, it seems to reflect and correspond to my growth as a potter. 

 

I love ceramics and collect pieces by local and international potters. I especially love fine lines, containers and bright colours, that I cant yet master for myself. I like smooth surfaces that feel pleasant in my hands and on my lips when Im drinking from handmade ceramics. 

 

What matters most to you in considering and developing a project?

 

Function and imperfect beauty matters most to me. That things work and that they look good (but not necessarily in a flawless, even, symmetrical way). That a cup feels comfy to hold, that the lid of a jar fits well, that it’s something you look forward to using regularly. 

 

Who/what are your greatest influences? (Anyone or anything that feeds your work, directly or indirectly.)


My greatest influences are growth, process and my fellow potters. Learning new skills and refining my techniques feed my motivation and inspire me to keep turning up to my practise. I love seeing what others are working on it’s a definite highlight of social media especially during what feels like never ending lockdown in Melbourne.

Sustainability.

Talk me through the ways that sustainability features in your work.

 

Producing ceramics is a fairly resource heavy process. The clay up until is it bisque fired can be reclaimed, that is sloppy, broken and unwanted pieces can be turned back into useable material. After that we are creating pots that will exist for a really really long time. So for me, it’s about being mindful in a way that doesn’t take all the fun and spontaneity out of the things we make and do that brings us joy. 

 

Your process. 

How do you come up with a project? 

 

Ha! I sit down behind the wheel and just get started. Many years ago I made a surfboard over a weekend (with heaps of help from the guys that actually knew what he was doing) I painted it to look like a turtle shell and wrote on it ‘just paddle out’. And that is still how I get most things done, I turn up and just get started. 

 

How do you approach it?

 

I don’t over think my approach, I roll my sleeves up. If a client or friend has asked me to make something specific I have rough notes or measures to aim for. Other than that Im in the moment to find out what is possible with clay on the day. 

 

What inspires you most?

 

I love the piece of mind, the contentment and the space I feel when Im in the making/ creating zone. I enjoy process and working my way through steps to see how work resolves itself. I love popping the kiln open and seeing how the colours and surfaces of work has come alive (and not stuck or run on to the kiln shelves). 

 

Where do you do your best designing/creating? (Any literal situations that stimulate your desire to design, ie. when you are travelling, when you are having a great conversation…)

 

It may be numerous months of Melbourne lockdown talking but Im finding deep observation of the world around me inspiring and soothing. Watching the way pigeons move while they search for food at the park, the wave shape of the Lillies in our backyard and how my son organises his vehicles and talks out the story of his play. 

 

Your clients.

Do you work with a broad scope of clients, or do you have a preferred kind of client/brief? (Would be wonderful to get a good sense of your portfolio here.)

 

Yes! I love this aspect of creative collaboration. I have made some wonderful connections through friends and at makers markets. I make lots of pinchie cups for @LivingKoko, who make organic chocolate products from sustainable suppliers in Samoa. I have made a range of ceramic rings that hold Kokedamas plants for @AnaSoares and most recently have teamed up with @kinnorth to produce gem shaped incense holders for Trena’s premium japanese incense range. 

 

As a fledgling potter I am taking opportunities to expand my range and skills as they come. I think there’s an element of problem solving in the making of ceramics that as long as it’s not a huge technical leap in my abilities, I enjoy muddling through and developing a creative solution. That being said I don't consider myself a production potter in the sense of producing loads of exact replications of certain products. I work in small batches and no two pieces are ever the same. 

 

How closely do you work with a client? 

 

Collaboration is a relationship like any other and for me depends on the needs and intentions of the people involved. There’s an open stream of communication during the development phase so that work is made to meet the mark then I can get going with the production side of things. 

 

What have been some of the most satisfying projects that you have worked on? Why were they so effective / enjoyable?

 

Collaboration is most enjoyable for me when both parties are satisfied, appreciative of each others contribution and that the work moves. 

 

The future.


Do you have any exciting projects on the horizon that you can discuss?

 

Im really looking forward to Christmas and Summer markets. Lockdown in Melbourne has made this aspect of connecting and getting my work out in the world pretty challenging. I’m making away hoping to share my work in the sunshine and to be able to have real conversations with people. 

 

Where do you see the practice in five years? Ten years? Twenty!

 

I see my work growing and moving with me, as a reflection of the different materials, ideas and techniques I will continue to explore and develop along the way.