Chela Edmunds has embarked on a seachange since we last featured her painterly ceramics more than two years ago. ‘I freaked out that I was never going to get to the beach anymore, so I moved to Torquay on the Surf Coast,’ she tells matter-of-factly. ‘Then, once I worked out what a crazy commute it was to take my Takeawei pots to Melbourne and fire them, I also moved to a beautiful studio out at Ashmore Arts.’
Less than 10 minutes from the centre of town, the property houses a diverse array of creatives, from painters to sculptors and even a blacksmith. Chela first came across the community touring the Surf Coast Arts Trail, and instantly fell in love. ‘I put my name down on the list for a studio before I had even moved to Torquay… I knew I would figure out the move if I was offered a space!’ says Chela. And she did!
In her new light-filled studio, Chela has been creating striking designs, such as her Knot Mugs, oversized tumblers, popular Boob Jewel Box and, it’s offspring, the Boob Vase, which is her personal favourite. ‘Mostly I enjoy using a combination of glazes which are hand-painted to created landscapes,’ says the ceramicist, who is endlessly inspired by her backdrop of the hills, the sky and the ocean.
It’s been an industrious period with Chela teaching wheel classes regularly, continuing to co-run North-Melbourne’s Guild of Objects store, and developing a range of ceramics for the NGV Design Store, aptly titled Functional Glaze Test.
Fired to stoneware temperatures, this collection of versatile vessels champions Chela’s distinctive dripped glazes on a variety of pared-back cylindrical forms. The range took three months to produce, but drew from more than four years of studio development. ‘That is what I love about working in the studio: there is no start or finish; it’s really just a constant development of the work!’ says Chela.
Employing an organic approach, Chela mainly uses the wheel to throw pieces, tending toward exaggerated yet functional forms, and rarely applies her glazes precisely. ‘Through practice you get an indication of what can be expected, but it’s not until I get a piece out of the kiln that I turn it over in my hands and look for the landscape,’ she tells. ‘A mesmerising process every time… It’s like finding shapes in the clouds!’
Chela’s ‘Functional Glaze Test’ ceramics can be found at the NGV Design Store. Other collections are available via stockists listed on her website, where you can also find information about her workshops.