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Sophie Harle of Shiko Ceramics

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5th May, 2014
Lucy Feagins
Monday 5th May 2014

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Details from the studio of Shiko Ceramics' Sophie Harle. Photography - Sean Fennessy.

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Sophie at the wheel. Photography - Sean Fennessy.

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Shiko pieces before entering the kiln. Photography - Sean Fennessy.

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Sophie hand painting her Shiko ceramics. Photography - Sean Fennessy.

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Hand painted Shiko ceramics. Photography - Sean Fennessy.

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Sophie Harle in her Brunswick studio. Photography - Sean Fennessy.

For some reason, whenever we send one of our talented photographers to shoot a ceramicist in their studio, the photos always blow me away.  There's something about the rawness and exquisite mess of the ceramics studio, the muted white-on-white palette of the forms before they are glazed, and there is always a kind of chalky dust in the air that seems to give everything a beautiful softness.  Sigh.  I always love a ceramics story!

Today we introduce Melbourne based Sophie Harle of Shiko Ceramics.  Working from a home studio (or as she says, more of a 'studio home') in Brunswick, Sophie creates her beautiful range of handcrafted ceramic vessels, whilst her partner, well known painter Jeremy Geddes works from an adjoining studio.

Though she's been passionate about pottery since her teenage years, Sophie's path to become a full time maker has been a meandering one. She originally studied ceramics at VCA in the 1990's, and then moved on to Art Curatorship, before becoming somewhat disenchanted with the art world and moving to Japan.  After returning home, Sophie says 'reality kicked in, and I got a regular job'. Sophie studied PR, which transitioned into Market Research. She worked as a consultant for 10 years, but kept a keen interest in ceramics, making pottery in her spare time.

'In the back of my mind I always planned to devote all of my efforts to pottery when the real world would allow' says Sophie. About four years ago, that opportunity finally arose when Sophie's husband Jeremy signed up with a gallery in New York.  'That took a lot of pressure off me as the bread winner' says Sophie. 'We bit the bullet and I set myself up to throw full-time. It was a revelation, and the best decision we’ve ever made'.

Sophie's passion for her craft is unmistakeable.  'A good pot will make me tear up which is a little embarrassing' she says! 'There’s just something about the form, the feel, the weight, it’s all just so alive. When you hold a good pot you don’t want to put it down, and I want to make those kinds of pots'.

Sophie has a couple of interesting commissions and collaborations in the works at present, and is also planning to spend a few months in Japan next year to learn from a potter over there. 'But I’m not planning to go global or anything like that' she says! 'I just love making pots for people who love using them. I like the intimacy of that relationship. My plans are modest, like my pots'.

Sophie's work can be bought online, and is also stocked at Monk House Design and Mr Kitly in Brunswick.  You should also follow her beautiful works in progress on instagram - @shikopottery !

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Sophie Harle in her Brunswick home studio. Photography - Sean Fennessy.

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Shiko Pottery pieces. Photography - Sean Fennessy.

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Studio details. Photography - Sean Fennessy.

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