It all began with a porcelain and macramé owl… That was the memorable first sale for Ouch Flower, Philippa A Taylor’s porcelain wares and jewellery label, inspired by coastal flora. However, Philippa’s love of ceramics had first emerged decades earlier. As a young Year 7 student, pottery class was her favourite part of the week. This passion remained as she undertook an arts degree at Monash University, majoring in Clay Design, and added an Honours year focusing on this discipline. ‘It was a blissful, completely absorbing four years,’ she reminisces. ‘I feel very fortunate to have learned this craft from notable Australian studio potters.’
As a graduate at the turn of the millennium, Philippa found there weren’t as many opportunities for makers as there fortunately are today, so she ventured into retail, before teaching Visual Arts, and travel, marriage and kids followed. ‘Then I thought it’s now or never,’ she recalls. ‘The last piece of advice I was given by my university lecturers on my final folio was to develop my own style and my own visual language (a hard thing to swallow when you have been sitting at the pottery wheel for four years) but I get it now, 20 years later – I’m all for a slow burn!’
Philippa is currently on family leave and making the most of that time creating in her small home pottery studio, or more often than not the lounge room, where she can also be around her children.
It is here that her intricate designs come together. Often returning to a sketchbook that has become a developmental archive over the years, the dedicated maker works on her designs daily. ‘I think this constant engagement keeps the ideas flowing and your skill set building,’ she says.
‘Waiting for the perfect time around family is never going to happen, so I work around and amongst family life.’
Several of Philippa’s eye-catching pieces also employ basketry techniques, learned from workshops with Melbourne-based weaver Maryann Talia Pau. ‘Coiling, whether with clay or natural fibres just made sense to me,’ says Philippa. ‘One day, I made a necklace using basketry techniques and I asked ‘Instagram’ what they thought,’ she adds, referencing her supportive online community. ‘This turned into a huge creative turnaround, and my venture into textile jewellery began, combining my porcelain and fibre practice together.’
This year Philippa is working towards an exhibition, and will focus on growing her professional ceramic practice and contemporary jewellery range, as well as expand on the number of workshops she can share with ‘other like-minded folk’. Being on the other side of education is also important for the modest, experimental ceramicist. ‘I’m really enjoying making contemporary jewellery, with a focus on earrings. I hope to develop a new range using a variety of clays and clay techniques, never seen in this area before.’ We’ll be keeping our eyes wide open for the next instalment of her unexpected creations!
See more from Philippa A Taylor, or browse the Ouch Flower online shop here.