Not often do we see ceramicists so skilled in both drawing and constructing forms, but that’s because Sonya started her creative work in Graphic Design then went back to college to study drawing at Adelaide College of the Arts where she picked up ceramics. Not leaving her drawing skills behind, Sonya still draws on paper before drawing onto her simple ceramic forms.
Here we talk with Sonya about her creative process as well as how she got into ceramics…
How did you get into ceramics?
I had dabbled with clay at high school and grew up with creative parents who built a mud-brick house themselves (I have been surrounded by clay my whole life!) I returned to study to do a Visual Art Degree as a mature age student. Beginning the course with a passion for drawing but soon gravitated to the ceramics department. Not only for the medium but the sense of community that surrounds the practice. I also found conceptually I could express my creative ideas more easily in 3D and found clay to be the medium I enjoyed the most. I always loved the process of hand building and found it quite meditative. Also, I like that my art is made to be used and held as part of daily rituals rather than something to be admired and hung on the wall.
Your work is very painterly, what is your creative process like?
I have always drawn and sketched and I create abstract watercolour and pencil drawings on paper, to begin with, and use these as inspiration when decorating my hand built porcelain forms. As my work centres around the decoration, I create simple clean forms that complement the abstract design. I like to draw on platters and plates as they are like functional canvasses but I also enjoy the challenge of drawing around a 3D object. My exhibition pieces are also hand built architectural and industrial forms sometimes real or imagined. I then decorate these forms using the same technique using my handmade ceramic colour pencils for drawing on the bisque fired surface and then continue to decorate with ceramic watercolours and pigments for the wash effect. The pieces are then glazed or left unglazed and high fired.
How would you describe your work?
Delicate, expressive, abstract, one of a kind.
How have you evolved as a ceramicist?
I have two streams of work that I produce: exhibition pieces and functional pieces for the home. I am consciously trying to create pieces that are different to what is already out there and create a style that is truly my own.
What are you inspired by now?
My inspiration comes from the ever-evolving landscape either the built environment or the natural world. Most of the inspiration behind my decoration is drawn from nature either through colour, line, pattern. The forms of my exhibition pieces are inspired by man-made architecture: rural and industrial.
What is a typical day in the studio like?
I have a studio with several other artists at JamFactory Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley in South Australia located in a historic old barn and includes a contemporary gallery and shop. The studios are open to the public daily. Every day is different. I generally have work in many different stages of the making process around the studio: pieces drying, firing, decorating and glazing and sketching in my journal when inspiration strikes. Plus all the housekeeping things that need doing such as mixing and testing new colours, making more pencils etc. Every day is broken up with explaining my process to friendly and interested people who are wandering around enjoying the activity throughout the building. All this helps with always keeping the process fresh and anything but monotonous!
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working towards a group exhibition which opens later in the year. It seems far away but with the slow process of ceramics, it will be here before I know it! I am also creating some functional wares for an upcoming three-day design show in May.
How can we buy your work?
I am currently working on a website to be launched in the next few months but in the meantime my work can be purchased directly from me in my open studio or by contacting me via Instagram, online via the JamFactory website or through my local stockists (SA: JamFactory, Hahndorf Academy, Barossa Regional Gallery. ACT: Timber Tailor Shop)