Lauren Sutton - Australian Creative & Visual Storyteller

Richilde Flavell

[Ceramicist]

 

Name

Richilde Flavell

Makes

Ceramics at Girl Nomad Ceramics

Find Richilde here

You can find regular updates on Richilde's website about where she is showing her work: exhibitions, events, and workshops. She also has an online shop!

www.girlnomadceramics.com

@girlnomadceramics

Girl Nomad Ceramics on Facebook

The Beginning

I didn’t start off thinking I’d be a potter! I spent a couple of years in my mid 20s working on organic farms and hitch-hiking around Europe. I had a passion for travel at that time and wanted a job that allowed me to see the world at my own pace. Many of the places where I worked were in the midst of building or renovating, so I thought I could learn to make ceramic splashbacks for bathrooms, kitchens and fireplaces using materials dug and collected from the farms on which I was staying. Without any of the skills to do so, I planned to dig clay from the fields and collect ash from fireplaces to make the glazes. When I returned to Australia I decided to take up pottery and learn how to realise this daydream. I studied at the Carlton Arts Centre in Melbourne for two years, where I had my first taste of the potter’s wheel, and then moved back to Northern NSW, where I was taught slip-casting by John Tuckwell. Encouraged by John and his students I enrolled at the Australian National University, School of Art & Design where three years later I completed a ceramics degree. During my time at ANU I finally learnt how to make tiles, collect clay and make natural ash glazes among other things. My ceramic plans changed a lot over the years from my initial daydreams, but I’m ready for my first splashback commission should a client request it! ;)

It was long and ever-changing journey to get to where I am today, and involved a lot of great teachers along the way. It’s funny to think that I went to Art School to learn skills that would let me travel the world, but what I found there was a great community that kept me in Canberra, working with clay in a completely different way than I had expected.

I grew up in Northern NSW on a commune with orchards and wide open fields. A river ran along the border of the property and I spent time as a kid exploring a beautiful deep bamboo grove where the light danced on the forest floor like pattering fingerprints of light. It was a very unconventional upbringing, filled with the beauty of nature. In my twenties I lived nomadically (hence the name Girl Nomad!), travelling around Australia, Europe and India. I studied Visual Arts, IT, Commercial Cookery, and Horticulture at TAFE, all the while trying to work out what I was going to do with my life. It was in 2012 when I started ceramics at ANU that I moved to Canberra. 

Canberra is where I found a community of makers and customers. Canberrans started buying my work and then I realised that if I worked to develop my tableware it could possibly support me. I started by sharing market stalls with friends from Art School. My first attempt was selling colourful shot glasses at Art Not Apart in 2013, on a single trestle table shared with five other makers!

The Process

When I am creating is it very messy! I’m a person who works intensely and makes quite a mess and then tidies up afterwards or the next day - sometimes even at the end of the week! I’m slow to get going, especially in the morning, but once I’m on a roll I don’t want to stop. I love to be surrounded by people while I make but I also really enjoy just listening to Radio National, putting on my headphones and finding the calm methodical sweet spot that I find when making. That’s when muscle memory takes over and productivity really peaks. I really thrive when I can balance quiet working time and social engagement. 

Most of my work is thrown on the potter’s wheel using stoneware clay and is gas fired. I’m starting to incorporate some hand building processes such as slab building. This adds a sense of play and I find it enjoyable to have a diverse range of techniques in my practice.

I’ve just moved into Studio C3 at Strathnairn Arts Centre. This studio is my second in Canberra and it’s slowly starting to feel like home. It started out as the end of an empty shed, my goal is to transform the space into a beautiful, functional and inspiring work environment because I spend more time here than I do at my house!

I’m training myself to say no even though all I want to do is say yes to every opportunity! By dutifully refusing I’ve finally reached a point where I can have Saturdays off. I block out breaks in my calendar months ahead of time so I know I can’t take on too much work. Intention and goal setting have helped me to find a work/play balance. I could still use some more tips on how to not overcommit so I’d love to find out how other self-employed people manage it!

Inspiration

Creating a sense of home and place is important to me, as we didn’t have a traditional house or kitchen growing up. I’m interested in meaningful homewares that give a sense of tradition and ritual in your life and bring focus and beauty to the act of eating and cooking. 

I’m a bit of a romantic, and I find beautiful moments in nature very inspiring: The golden light at sunset and the dramatic intensity of ferocious storms make me feel alive and connected to life. I love being outside at night in the dark, feeling the air moving through the foliage and looking at the moon. I try my best to capture these moments in my work through my glazes and colour palettes. The open space around Canberra is vast and I feel an affinity with it. The landscape has a calming effect on me which washes away any sense of anxiety.

To overcome creative block the technique I use for students and for myself is to sit down at the wheel and throw a simple repeatable form. Once you get the body moving it quietens your mind and your muscle memory will take over. Getting my hands in clay usually starts my mind ticking again and I start getting inspired.

In terms of my creative work it’s more a conversation that takes a different direction every time. It’s a slow journey of development. I research, think, throw, draw, and talk, back and forth. Alternating between these processes helps me to gradually tease out my ideas and, finally, express them in clay.

I’m trying not to collect anything as I’m trying to live a simple life, but I do collect ceramics. It’s hard not to when there are so many other makers around creating such beautiful work!

I also love cooking and eating, I care about where my produce comes from, buying local and without plastics is important to me. I often cook quite elaborate meals, following recipes from chefs and cook books, even after getting home late from the studio, and my house mates wonder why dinner isn't ready until 9.30!

Future

In the short term I would like to make my online store updates more regular. Long term, I’m dreaming about developing my exhibition practice and having dedicated time to develop new work and be more experimental. I plan on staying in Canberra. Canberra is definitely home for now!

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