Meeting Eloise White

How long have you been making ceramics and what brought you to it?

I first began experimenting with clay during my University Exchange in Scotland in 2016. When I first held clay in my hands and started creating, I knew it was what I was meant to doing in life. I’ve been working with clay exclusively for the past three years, refining my practice through self taught methods and exploration.


I am drawn to creating vessels that are made from the earth and sculpted by my hands. I find this process endlessly poetic as vessels have been made this way from clay, since the beginning of time.


Is it your main activity today? I've seen that you were studio tenant at Jam Factory - can you give us more details?

This is the first year that I have made ceramics my sole focus. I recently relocated to Adelaide from Sydney, Australia, to rent a tenant studio at the Jamfactory. In 2021, I will be commencing the Ceramic Associate program at the Jamfactory. It has fantastic artist studio spaces, galleries and stores. Jamfactory is a place where I am able to get lost in the act of making.


I find it incredibly inspiring to be creating in a building surrounded by other ceramicists, furniture designers, jewellers and glass blowers. Last year I worked alone at a desk that was squeezed into a tool shed at my house. Moving to Adelaide has provided me with the opportunity to be surrounded by and collaborate ideas with other highly skilled makers.


eloise white portrait

Do you think that being based in Adelaide in Australia effects your vision and has an impact on your creativity? 

In Adelaide it’s easy to pop out of the city and be in nature. There are some incredible hikes around South Australia. Natural forms found in nature, plants, and the environment inspire me, particularly the Australian flora and fauna. My aim as an artist and maker is to bring people together through a shared love of clay, nature and landscapes.


What’s your favourite technique, your favourite tool and what work do you most enjoy doing

I love the slow process of the coiling technique, as it allows more complicated forms to be created. The process of making has become an important aspect for me. I find working with clay a meditative practice and I gain a deep satisfaction in the time and energy taken to resolve each piece.


My practice is grounded in the study of ancient forms, clay techniques and cultures that are steeped in hand building traditions. A coiling process originating from raw clay slabs forms my organic vessels. The raw power of this form creates space for irregularities and natural pigmentation to remain visible to the naked eye, unapologetically conveying the intimate relationship between material, form and maker. The process of hand-built clay forms is transformative in this mass produced impatient world.


I'm obsessed with vases myself... Would you define yourself as a collector? Did you start to collect objects / artworks? If yes, from which artists?

I am interested in collecting art books and looking through them for inspiration with my morning coffee. Currently on my coffee table is Isamu Noguchi, A Sculptor's World, Valentine Schlegel, Je Dors, Je Travaille and Henri Matisse, The Cut-Outs.

mother of pearl lacque 

- Can you tell us more about your residency in Jingdezhen? And about this Mother of Pearl effect you've been working on there? 

I was in China for an international residency at The Pottery Workshop, Jingdezhen, to develop porcelain techniques. It was an incredible experience living in a city that is solely devoted to ceramics. I took part in many workshops run by local craftsmen to learn about porcelain techniques. During the residency, I heard about a special Mother of Pearl lacquer that could only be created in Jingdezhen and had to try it. The Mother of Pearl effect is created by a gold lacquer being fired in a kiln at 200 degrees Celsius for 6 hours. It alchemises into the opalescent mother of pearl finish. I am excited to return to Jingdezhen one day to create more porcelain vessels in the Porcelain Capital of the World.


Do you listen to music while working? Your playlist at the studio? 

I listen to music and podcasts all the time in the studio. I find it really soothing and inspiring while my hands are busy making with clay. Right now I’m listening to a lot of Erika de Casier, Sade and Lauren Hill. Podcasts that I regularly play in the studio are The Daily by The New York Times and ABC Radio Conversations.


Traveling sound very important and connected to your practice…

International residencies and travelling have been fundamental to developing my creative practice. I have created vessels in the Porcelain Capital of the world, Jingdezhen, China. In 2018, I created stoneware ceramic forms at Shiro Oni studio, Onishi, in the mountains of Japan.


I’m waiting for the day when the world is open again for international travel so I can make my way to Italy for my next Artist Residency at Villa Lena, Tuscany. I am eager to create vessels in Tuscany, home of terracotta, using terracotta clay collected from the regions surrounding Villa Lena.


What's next for you? Bigger pieces maybe ? We have seen some pictures :) 

I am currently making much larger pots, working on a series of candleholders and creating my first piece of ceramic lighting. I’m interested in creating pieces that embody some sort of ritual or function. I am inspired by ancient ceramic forms, that once held such a rudimentary and crucial role, my pieces are artful attempts to return us to a time when ceremony was a part of daily life.


What would be your dream project?

Though I feel that clay will certainly be part of my practice for my entire life, I’m eager to try different mediums like stone and wood. In particular, when I finally make it to Italy, I want to learn how to carve limestone in Tuscany at the Marble Workshop. I am drawn to using a medium that is collected from the earth but less forgiving than clay. I’m interested to see what forms I can create while working with new mediums.


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