bec smith – craft interview

For those of you who may not be in the know, there’s a rather lovely exhibition that happens every year in Victoria dedicated to showcasing new local crafters and their wares. It’s called Fresh!, and if you’d care to check this year’s crop of talent, pop past Craft Victoria at 31 Flinders Lane in Melbourne before the exhibition closes tomorrow – and/or have a squiz at our interview with Bec Smith right here. The Melbourne-based lady just so happened to nab the frankie award for her exceptionally eye-pleasing ceramics – high fives!

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How did you get started with ceramics? I was studying sculpture at RMIT and was given a project: to work with a material I hadn’t worked with before. I chose porcelain and fell in love with it. I then transferred to the ceramics department and finished my degree specialising in ceramics.

Are there any downsides to this medium? The downside of porcelain is its fragility. Porcelain is delicate to work with and easily breakable, especially before it’s fired. It’s also very easy to make mistakes because it tends to be unpredictable. But I think all of these things are all part of its charm and why I love working with clay.

Please describe the space where you do most of your creation – whether it’s your art studio or kitchen bench! I have just moved out of a studio and have been working from home for the last few months. I have taken over the spare room and set up a desk there with all my materials. I am looking to move into another studio soon so I can continue to make large-scale sculptural work.

Is there a running theme to the work you create, or do you just make whatever comes to mind? All of my work is based on my experience with the natural world. Recently I’ve been incorporating my love of sweet snacks, baking and fragrances. I’m also interested in the strength found in femininity. My work often looks delicate, but the porcelain is always strong in its final form.

What makes your work unique and truly your own? I make work that stems from my own experiences of the world. My work romanticises nature and place in a way that reflects my perspective. The sensory elements I combine with my work, like taste and fragrance, challenge the conventions of contemporary ceramics.

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Tell us a little about your creative process. My process begins with exploring the material and what it can do. I do a lot of testing with colours and texture, and use a notebook to record drawings and paintings. My work then evolves from these tests and images, but a huge amount of the ceramics process is this documentation. These initial stages are so fun and playful, which I hope is reflected in my finished work.

What kinds of ideas and things are you working on at the moment? At the moment, my main focus is on sculptural objects and installation work. I’m still interested in selling work for people to showcase in their homes, and I’m currently working on a few commissions. I’m also working on a large sculpture inspired by the Bombe Alaska and series of objects based on the process of making date scones.

How has your style changed over time? I think my work has always possessed a certain voice and an admiration for delicate materials. I have experimented with different materials like wax, resin and flowers, and my work has changed through this exploration. My experience with porcelain is always changing as I learn more about it, which is what I love about it most.

What other budding crafters do you love? I’m most inspired by the work of my friends and peers, including Sophie Freeman, Tessy King, Seth Searle and Lucy Mactier. Even though ceramics has been considered a craft, my work focuses on thinking about ceramics differently and bridging the gap between art and craft.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not creating? I love eating and visiting parks and gardens. I aim to combine these two hobbies as much as possible. When I’m spending time at home I love listening to audiobooks and music, my favourites being Harry Potter and Solange. I also love to play The Sims with my younger sister.

Where can we see more of your work? My work is currently exhibited in Fresh! at Craft Victoria, and is for sale at Junior Space. My first solo show will be held at Guild of Objects in June. I make regular updates on my website and Instagram; these spaces will provide information about my current work and upcoming exhibitions.

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