Before moving to Melbourne from Wellington, New Zealand, James Shaw lived down the road from a pottery school, yet ceramics were always out of reach. ‘I was working full-time, but I could never pull the money together to commit to lessons’ he recalls..
Five years ago, James decided to cross the ditch, with creative goals in mind. After dabbling in music and acting, James was still looking for something that made him feel great. ‘I remember making the first pot by myself, and I found a real sense of accomplishment, deeper than I had in other creative outlets I had tried before,’ he admits. ‘Making objects with my hands and mud made me feel like a new parent to my pots—but then again, I ended up dropping one of the first pots I threw, so I’m glad that I’m not an actual parent!’
Two years on, and the self-proclaimed ‘clumsy guy’ is ‘living off throwing and firing’, studying sculpture as part of a Fine Arts degree at RMIT, and has already gained an impressive following for his quirky, handmade wares.
I’m not going to pretend like I didn’t choose the hardest possible way to do this – being a New Zealander here can be tough, and starting a business making pottery is nothing less than stupid.
Lemons Ceramics was started just over a year ago, after James began to identify a consistency in what he was creating. Following some enthusiastically-received No. Cups, bowls, and a collaboration with Hunting for George, James is set to unveil his new collection, Bump, at Guild of Objects this weekend.
Thrown to shape, and then literally bumped, the pieces that survive become one-of-a-kind tumblers, vases, bowls, lampshades and other bits and bobs. ‘I try to hit the pieces in different places and with different strengths to really emphasise the tensions in the new form,’ tells James. ‘I break a lot of work by doing this, but that makes each finished piece a little bit more special I guess.’