Meet Louise, the visionary artist at the helm of Mudlarks. With a passion for crafting contemporary and practical ceramics, Louise dedicates herself to producing small batches of pottery, employing various techniques that perfectly complement each piece, be it wheel thrown or hand built. Her primary focus lies in visually appealing vessels that not only serve their purpose flawlessly but also bring immense joy to their users.
By seamlessly blending artistry, functionality, and sustainable practices, Mudlarks offers a truly exceptional ceramic experience for those seeking beautifully crafted and thoughtful pieces.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how did you become a potter?
When I was younger, my brother gave me a pair of handmade mugs for my birthday. I loved them and loved the idea of them being handmade. I enrolled in an art class to try to learn how to make more myself.
Then the opportunity popped up to do a workshop with a professional potter, Richard Brooks, and I was hooked. My torch was lit and I enrolled in a TAFE course and then Mitchell College of Advanced Education. I learnt how to run a studio, build a kiln, make my own glazes. I’ve worked very hard and I’ve loved every minute of it. My studio is my happy place.
When making a new piece, what drives you?
I have two commitments in my ceramics practice: form and function. I am concerned with the shape of each piece and with how well it functions. Beauty and function do not have to operate separately but can and should be intrinsic to each pot.
When starting your career, did you ever imagine what it could become?
No. I fell in love with clay when I was a child and I discovered that you could find this stuff in the ground! That delighted me. Then, as a young adult, I learnt the joy of using handmade things. The rest came from there.
Can you tell us a bit about something you have been excited to be a part of?
One of the most exciting things in my practice is my classes, guiding people to unleash their innate creativity. Exhibitions come and go, magazine articles end up mouldering in a drawer but the difference you make in people's lives when you ignite their creativity remains for years.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere. I try to keep my mind, eyes and heart open as I go through life, that way I see things that I might have otherwise missed, eg the texture on the trunk of a palm tree at the beach, fossilised sand ripples in a national park and doodles in an old notebook.
Can you please tell us about your most treasured piece in your home?
Having raised four children I have tried not to become too attached to individual things but I do have a cupboard full of beautiful pieces I’ve collected from potters all over the world and I treasure them all.
What does ‘home’ mean to you?
Home means sitting round the table with my family sharing food on handmade platters and plates. I love to do that.
Can you please talk us through your favourite piece/s from your collection?
I have a small jug I bought in Japan. It's a simple, open design with no handle and the khaki glaze (a traditional Japanese glaze, usually brown) has been fired with such skill that the iron in the glaze has gained a soft, silvery, metallic patina, almost iridescent. I did not need an interpreter to communicate to the potter my awe at what he had achieved in the firing of this piece. I could tell he was pleased with my reaction and I love my little jug.
What advice would you give to any other creatives not knowing where to start or wanting to get into pottery?
I'd say two things: Firstly, to master making, practice, practice and practice. Secondly, to master the glaze technology, read and read then experiment. And lastly, I think I'd say keep your mind, heart and eyes open.