Q Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do/make?
I was born in Melbourne, however when I was three years old my family moved to a farm in Western Victoria. I spent 20 years growing up on a cattle property with my family. I bought my first home in my early twenties in Melbourne, where I was working at the time.
I spent the majority of my working life in IT, in various management and operational roles. In 2002, I was looking for something that would alleviate my stress and decided to try pottery classes. After some encouragement and much support from my husband I enrolled in a Ceramics Diploma at Holmesglen Institute of Tafe in 2005. I continued to work in the city, mostly part time, and also studied part time. After five years of part time study I completed a Diploma in Ceramics at Ballarat University in 2010.
After finishing at Ballarat in 2010, I took a studio lease at Danaher Lane Studios in North Melbourne where I stayed for 2 years. In 2012 I took a studio in East Brunswick at Northcote pottery Supplies where I was the resident artist for 3 years until I set up a studio at home in December last year.
The work I create is functional, both on the pottery wheel and also hand formed pieces. The main focus being tableware, an area which I’m passionate about. I continue to tutor at Northcote Pottery where I teach wheel throwing for beginners and run various workshops. When time permits, I also do some private teaching. I find it particularly rewarding working with students who have had no previous experience on the wheel, and seeing how they are quickly inspired to pursue their own inspirations.
Q How did you first get into it?
It was 2002. I was working in a demanding and stressful IT role. I remember reading an article in a local paper about pottery classes, and thought, ‘wouldn’t that be fun?’.
After a few weeks I decided to enrol in Saturday morning throwing classes in Carlton. I was there for a few months before my husband & I moved to Sydney for his work. I found a great Arts Centre that ran pottery classes – the Willoughby Arts Centre. I spent 2.5 years doing classes taught by Ceramic Artist Barbara Campbell-Allen, who was such an inspiration to me. I loved the classes and couldn’t get enough. When we returned to Melbourne I decided to enrol in the Ceramics Diploma at Holmesglen TAFE. Ultimately, I graduated from Ballarat TAFE/University in 2010, after another “work inspired” relocation.
Q What’s your favourite thing about it?
I love the level of freedom you can have with clay. Each clay type has its own ‘characteristics’. I enjoy the process of becoming ‘intimate’ with what I am working on. Yes, I know that may sound strange, but I love what I do! I am passionate about creating ceramic pieces which can be utilised in the home or garden, like a plate or cup to have your morning coffee or a unique handcrafted planter pot. I’ve always had a love of food and cooking so to combine my two loves is wonderful. I also love how “grounding” working with clay is, it takes you back to the earth, literally!
Q Which artists/creators do you get inspiration from?
Claudi Casanovas is a Spanish-born ceramic artist whose work has always captivated me. He creates mostly large scale sculptures from a variety of clays and media – his pieces are reminiscent of the earth and truly spectacular.
Shoji Hamada – A Japanese Potter who had a significant influence on studio pottery of the twentieth century,
Gwen Hanson Piggott – an Australian born ceramic artist who created beautiful contemporary work. She is well respected for her porcelain still life tablewares.
Jamie Oliver is someone I’ve admired since he first appeared on our screens, I have his first series ‘the naked chef’ on video! – I’ve watched this a thousand times over! His love and passion for what he does and creates is incredible; over the years he’s achieved so much and given a lot back, how can you not respect & admire that. Nigella Lawson is another foodie favourite, as is Rick Stein.
Q What are some projects you have the horizon?
In February 2017 I’m exhibiting a small selection of my tableware in Chelsea in London, part of the Parallax Art Fair. I’m particularly excited about having my work in the UK, a first for me and a good opportunity for those wanting to see my work up close rather than just online.
If you would like to learn more about Sarah Schembri’s work, click here.