Earlier this year I did a pottery class with a friend. I thought it was going to be easy – I’d just tap my foot on a pedal, spin a wheel, fire my creations in a kiln and voila, have a set of tableware. After six weeks of night classes the reality of pottery was less Demi Moore in Ghost, and more clay all over my Women’s Weekly apron, blender explosion style. I ended up with about a dozen wonky soap dishes. What I learnt during this course, is that pottery is a deceptively difficult art to perfect, and today’s NKOTB candidate Jessilla Rogers has certainly mastered it!
Originally from Adelaide, Jessilla moved to Melbourne after high school to study Art History at Melbourne University, with the intention of getting into art curatorship. It was during her undergrad that she discovered she actually liked making things herself, and randomly enrolled into some night time pottery classes at North Carlton Ceramics, taught by local ceramicist Valerie Restarick. After graduating, Jessilla spent six months abroad in Japan, and decided to give pottery a red hot go upon returning to Australia.
‘When I came back from Japan I decided I was going to try making ceramics more seriously. I spent six months at Valerie’s working on a portfolio, and then in the middle of 2013 started studying Ceramics at RMIT’ explains Jessilla. In the short time since, Jessilla already has her work stocked locally at Mr Kitly, has been featured in a number of exhibitions, and has recently started teaching her own classes at North Carlton Ceramics.
I guess I was around the studio so much that Valerie asked me if I wanted to teach. Of course I said yes!
Jessilla’s ceramics are fairly abstract, from the endearingly wonky shapes she creates, to the painterly patterns that finish each piece. Inspired by her childhood summers, visiting her grandparents place in the sand dunes at Robe, she loves pairing contrasting colours that remind her of the Australian sun. ‘I have this theory that people’s aesthetic style is influenced by the time when they first became aware of their surroundings, so for me that’s the early ‘90s.’ says Jessilla. Her work combines both hand built and wheel thrown techniques, often used in tandem, though decorating her works is her favourite process. ‘I generally glaze in white and then use coloured stains and underglazes to paint the surfaces. I like gold and silver lustres too, and use them a bit to make things look expensive!’
Moving into her first ‘grown up’ studio in North Melbourne next week, Jessilla is excited by the opportunity to focus even more on her work. ‘I can’t wait to spend my summer there, making in the studio and taking breaks swimming at the pool. It’s going to be a dream summer.’ Despite the ‘adultness’ of this transition, she is still always drawn to memories of her childhood days, and how they form the basis of her work.
‘I think in a nostalgic way I’m trying to capture my whole adolescence and put it in my pots.’
Jessilla has a stall at New Craft at the Queen Victoria Market this Sunday, and her next term of classes at North Carlton Ceramics start on October 21 for five weeks (you can enrol here).