Friday, 26 October 2012

profile kathryn mitchell - ceramic artist.

ceramicist kathryn mitchell

Native to the Isle of Man, ceramicist Kathryn Mitchell now calls the Gold Coast home. It seems the bright beach location has had a distinct impact on her ceramics which feature, stylised landscapes and colourful rainbow lorikeets, who flock to the South coast. Working with stoneware and porcelain clays, Kathryn uses both wheel throwing and slip casting techniques to combine traditional methods with contemporary forms. You can snap up some of Kathryn's work at the Eveleigh Artisans’ Market in Sydney in November, or pick up a few select pieces from Udessi, which showcases a wealth of handmade Australian art.

How would you describe yourself?
Determined, focused, organised, dreamer, quiet.

What was your childhood dream?
I remember wanting to be a baker, then a flight attendant, then a teacher! By the time I was 16 I knew I wanted to be an artist.

What led you down your current path?
I picked up a weekend and holiday job at a local paint-your-own-ceramics studio when I was a teenager – I spent 4 wonderful years working for a lovely family who encouraged and nurtured my creativity. From there I wanted to learn the whole process involved in making ceramics and went on to study visual arts, where I met my incredible teacher, Michaela Kloeckner. A practising ceramicist herself, she is a kind, patient and inspiring educator. I’m fortunate that 3 years on we are still good friends and I now consider Michaela to be my mentor. Since completing a diploma in 2010, I have maintained a part time studio practice whilst working in a beautiful contemporary art gallery.

What do you love most about what you do?
Working in ceramics, I feel that I’m part of a time honoured tradition and I think I’m quite privileged to contribute to such an ancient art form, in my own tiny way. Seeing people use my work in their daily lives – eat from my bowls, drink from my cups – fills me with joy.


Where do feel most inspired?
Standing on the beach, watching the pre-dawn light.

Who do you admire?
I could fill this whole page with names! I will try to be selective…
Michaela Kloeckner – my teacher, mentor and friend.
Other Australian ceramicists; Adriana Christianson, Shannon Garson and Gwyn Hanssen Pigott. I’m also forever inspired by artists Frida Kahlo and Gustav Klimt.

What challenges have you had to overcome?
My making method is wheel throwing – forming a piece of clay on the potters wheel. In my first year of learning I must have cried nearly every time I sat down to wheel throw. Some people take to it quite easily; I certainly did not! But I respected the skill and I loved the possibilities and qualities of thrown work, so I persevered and I’m slowly but surely creating work to be proud of.

What's been a 'pinch yourself' moment?
In September 2012 my work won the Wheel Thrown section in the Port Hacking Potters 47th National Competition. The judge was Greg Daly, considered one of Australia's finest ceramic artists - he has been one of the most influential contemporary artists working with glazed ceramics for over thirty years. It was a real privilege to have my work considered and selected by Greg! I was fortunate to meet Greg in person at Subversive Clay, the Australian Ceramics Triennale later that month. He was generous and patient in his comments and advice; a real gent!

What are your top creative resources?
Magazine: Vogue (the British one is best!)
Book: The Artist’s Quest for Inspiration by Peggy Hadden

What is your idea of happiness?
That’s a big question! I’m not sure I can say for certain what my idea of happiness is, but I know that some things that make me happy are; walking the beach before sunrise; building a new and better life for myself; watching and helping friends achieve their goals; listening to the Pacific Ocean in bed; travelling; watching Disney movies; drinking peppermint tea; soaking up sunshine; recalling sweet childhood memories.

What's next?
I’m flying down to Sydney in November to attend the Eveleigh Artisans’ Market with The Australian Ceramics Association alongside 20 other ceramicists. It will be my first interstate market so quite the learning curve, I’m sure!

I also have an exhibition in March 2013 with fellow Gold Coast ceramicist Megan Puls, entitled ‘Ebb Tide’. Megan is a well-established and respected ceramic artist; it’s a real honour to be invited to  exhibit my work alongside her and a great opportunity to push my work to a higher creative level.

When the weekend rolls around what do you love to:
Weekends are a rarity for me, but when I do allow down time…
Read – A book to escape into. Next on my reading list: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.
Watch – Doctor Who!
Cook- Sweet treats. Often very rich chocolate brownies.
Create – Pencil sketches and watercolour paintings
Listen to- My friends playing and singing original songs
Dream about- Future travel plans; returning to Canada, exploring Spain and Italy.
Look forward to- New projects, collaborations and exhibitions.