The legendary Lisa Marie Corso is back today with another round of NEW KIDS ON THE BLOG, with an introduction to the work of young Melbourne ceramicist Hannah Lawrence! After recently returning from a study trip in Japan, Hannah’s hand formed vessels are characterised by an endearing sense of Wabi Sabi, or ‘perfect imperfection’. - Lucy
Handcrafted ceramics in the studio of Melbourne ceramicist Hannah Lawrence. Photo - Sean Fennessy.
Handcrafted teapot with gold detail by Melbourne ceramicist Hannah Lawrence. Photo - Sean Fennessy.
Hannah pinching a new vessel into shape. Photo - Sean Fennessy.
Melbourne ceramicist Hannah Lawrence in her home studio. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
There is a fine line between collector and hoarder, and while I can’t identify which of these two camps I belong to, one thing is for sure – I want some Hannah Lawrence ceramics in my life. Upon discovering Hannah’s work I contacted her immediately, only to discover she had just left for Japan and would not be due back in Melbourne for TWO MONTHS. Do you know what it’s like withholding a discovery like this from our readers?! It feels almost adulterous, like Lucy and I are keeping a secret all to ourselves – not to mention the fact that two months is basically two years in internet time. SO, left with no choice, we waited for Hannah to return, and boy we are glad we did.
A glimpse into Hannah’s Melbourne home studio provides an intimate insight into the world of this skilled young ceramicist. There’s a distinct sense of ‘old worldliness’, as Hannah draws on age old techniques to create her unique vessels. Hannah primarily uses the ‘pinching’ method to make her work – a tactile approach ensuring each vessel is entirely fashioned by hand, without the automation provided by a pottery wheel. ‘I prefer this way because it gives me a very intimate and immediate relationship with the clay. I use minimal tools, and try to interfere with the natural form and texture as little as possible,’ notes Hannah.
Growing up in a country village in Cornwall, England, Hannah moved to Australia in 2007. After school she undertook a diploma in Art and Design, but decided firmly not to go to university. ‘It seemed a little strange to me that you could learn art in a classroom,’ says Hannah of this decision. ‘I felt then and still feel now that real creativity and wisdom comes from real life, from travel, people or solitude, it cannot be prescribed. To me true education is an incredible gift and arrives in our lives very spontaneously.’
True to this ethos, Hannah recently returned from a two-month stint in Japan, where she immersed herself in the culture of Japanese handcrafted ceramics. ‘There was really no plan when I arrived in Japan, but I learnt very quickly that if you trust in the kindness of strangers good things will come.’ And they did – Hannah was fortunate enough to find not one but three pottery teachers who housed and fed her, while also tutoring her in their craft.
This spirit of generosity is something Hannah also extends to other makers. Occasionally she’ll host clay parties over a two week period, where, under Hannah’s guidance, attendees make tableware in the first week, then return the second week for a celebratory communal dinner utilising their handcrafted vessels!
Hannah’s appreciation for the Japanese wabi sabi philosophy, or ‘perfect imperfection’, is also effortlessly evident throughout her work. Her handcrafted teapots, teacups and lipped vessels are created with a charming ‘wonkiness’, in which the hand of the maker is always evident.
So, what’s next for Hannah? After being steeped in Japanese culture for the past few months, her plan is to go into isolation, with a period of intense, non-structured work to inform her next creative direction. ’This is my usual rhythm, going through periods of learning, followed by quite random making, and then structured making. For me this cyclical pattern works very well, and keeps me moving and fresh in my process’ explains Hannah philosophically – ‘these cycles are my seasons.’