Printmaking & Ceramics
B Fine Arts (Printmaking & Ceramics)/Arts (History & European Studies) | 5th Year
Hi Gemma – tell us a little bit about yourself as an artist!
Hello! I am a Sydney based artist working in the mediums of printmaking and ceramics!
I predominately create slip-cast ceramics and linocut prints, finding joy in the reproductive nature and structured process of making that these mediums encompass.
I’m also quite an introverted person and love being able to spend a couple of hours on my own just making art.
It's interesting to see that you focus on printmaking and ceramics, since they seem like pretty different mediums. What got you started in working with them?
They are different! At UNSW, printmaking is under the fine arts stream while ceramics is under the design stream, and I often struggle with whether I define myself as an ‘artist’ or ‘maker’! It really depends on what I’m making and the context it is displayed in I guess. However I have recently experimented with combining the two disciplines by pressing some of my linocuts into clay! So keep your eyes peeled!
I got into Printmaking at high school and it was the obvious choice for me when I had to pick a fine arts major. Yet, as you can no longer do a double major in Printmaking at UNSW I had to pick something else and decided to try ceramics! At the time I was making quite technical zinc plate etchings so doing hand building in ceramics was a welcomed change and a bit of fun! I now love ceramics just as much as I love Printmaking and I am so glad I was forced to try something new!
I'd also like to know more about your creative process too. What's it like and do you have any concepts that you like exploring through your work?
I plan, plan, plan! For example all my prints have started off as photographs, which I then convert to drawings, which I then convert to prints. I have never started carving lino or scratching an etching plate without the design planned to a tee!
All my ceramics are planned too. Firstly I build a vessel/pot by hand using the coil technique and based loosely off an initial drawing, then I make a mould of it out of plaster so that it can be thinly slip casted – this gives it a much finer aesthetic and also means I can make multiples. There is then a lot of planning involved when slip casting – you need to precisely time how long the slip is in the mould for before pouring it out and then how long to leave the residue in the mould before opening it. I have lots of alarms set when I am slip casting! Then once the vessel/pot has been removed from the mould you need to wait for it to dry out a little more before you can trim it, smooth it etc.! Then of course you need to plan when you will fire it, glaze it, and fire it again! Lots of planning!!
In terms of concepts I like exploring through my works, I love organic forms at the moment – drawing inspiration from the world around me. For example my pots/ vessels have been inspired by gum trees, while my baby bowls have been inspired by apple shapes. My linocut prints are then of course inspired by the female nude and based off my own body most of the time!
You were involved in Hazelhurst Art Centre's exhibition 'In Our Nature'. How was it? What was your work about?
Having work in an exhibition is always exciting and I really love the work I produced for ‘In our Nature.’
It was titled Shedding and featured a series of pots and vessels along with a scattering of shards. They were made of porcelain through my combination of hand-building and slip casting, with some then smashed to create the shards.
Conceptually, the work was about how each year eucalyptus trees shed their bark as a product of the tree maturing and to help keep the tree healthy. Additionally, on a metaphorical level this work urges us to take a moment to consider our own layers that need shedding -what no longer positively serves us and what is it that we hold most important?
Leading on from that, it also seems like you've gone to a couple exhibitions yourself - do you have a favourite exhibition or artist that you've seen?
I love art. I love art history and I love the art world! Last year I travelled to Europe and went to as many galleries as I could! I really love the work of Henri Matisse and so visiting to Musée Matisse in Nice was an absolute must for me. When I was there the Matisse / Picasso exhibition was currently on – which was a really awesome exhibition mapping their respective careers as well as interactions with one another. That has probably been my favourite exhibition! It is travelling to the NGA later this year and I think ill make the trip down to Canberra to see it again! I also love to go to galleries on my own, I go to see exhibitions at the AGNSW on my own a lot!
I'm also sure that you inspire others to create their own works too - what's some advice for some students who are looking to make ceramics? Do you have any good tips and tricks for beginners?
Ahhh ceramics is trial and error and you just have to keep persevering. I have a lot of pieces that have come out of the kiln cracked, or ones where the glazes haven’t turned out how I thought they might despite doing glaze tests, or ones that have shrunk more than I planned they would after firing... the list goes on. But it is so rewarding when you get something out of the kiln and it has turned out even better than you had hoped. And it is so rewarding when you hear that other people love something you have made as well. So you just have to go with the ups and downs that come with ceramics and begin again and again and again because it is so worth it!
And of course, we love being kept in the loop. Do you have any awesome projects that are coming up?
It’s my final year of uni and I need to focus on getting the last of my subjects done and making the most of all that the uni has to offer, so I’m trying not to commit myself to too much!
However I will have some work in a ceramics exhibition at UNSW Art & Design during August as part of a course I’m taking! The course combines interactive media and ceramics so it should be a really cool show!
I’m also heading into my friends year 2 class in a couple of weeks to teach them to make pinch pots for their upcoming school art show! I love what kids create, they have a different approach to art making that adults often spend a long time trying to achieve!
Final question - do you have anything you want to share with the world? Could be random shower thoughts, something deep or just a quick ramble.
I get really sad when I see that people have put recyclable items in their garbage bin and not a recycling bin. Please remember to recycle!
And thank you so much for having me as Blitz Artist of the Week! I feel very lucky to share this space with such talented fellow artists!