Rebecca Withington

The Wild One, 2021

10 cm
Melbourne’s covid lockdowns have impacted our lives and our businesses.My ceramic teaching businesses is face-to-face & I have had to shut it down for long periods for reasons beyond my control.To help me remain positive, I have focussed on what I can control. I have returned to my own personal studio practise & I have taken Melbourne into the studio with me.I usually purchase clay commercially but during down time & on long walks I discovered that I could source & harvest wild clay locally, the area of the Kulin Nation who are the traditional owners of the land that now comprises of the City of Bayside.Ceramic artists connect with their work in a very tactile way. Their hands shape & mould to manifest their artistic vision, the properties of the raw material both enabling and constraining that process.Starting earlier with the raw material, by personally harvesting the wild clay, unlocking it from the earth with my hands has given me a renewed sense of purpose for my art, to create a unique story and a deeper connection to the land where I work. Harvesting & working with wild clay is both challenging and exciting. It is a very physical & manual process to dig it on site and to slap wedge it for use. With this minimal processing the clay remains abrasive, so I had to adapt my building technique to protect my hands. I had to use tools rather than my fingers to join the coils & in doing so I created a wonderful textural surface, which has allowed the glaze to move over & fuse to the pot wall.The high firing process releases more of the clay’s wildness. The organic materials burn away in the kiln but the iron speckles, small rocks, sand and other unknown elements remain, creating metallic blisters on the pot’s surface. At each step of the process I was unsure how the wild clay would perform.
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