I KNOW we feature an inordinate number of ceramicists around here but it cannot be helped. There are just so many excellent potters in Melbourne – we simply report on the talent as we find it!
Our latest discovery is someone whose work I came across at Craft (formerly Craft Victoria) late last year. Originally from France, Lucile Sciallano trained in France, and undertook a Masters Degree at the prestigious Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands before moving to Melbourne in 2013. Her background is actually in Object Design rather than ceramics, but after moving to Melbourne Lucile fortuitously found herself living right across the road from Northcote Pottery Supplies, which gave her the opportunity to develop a hands on ceramics practice. The result is an exquisite range of slip-cast ceramic vessels, currently created by hand and stained in the slip using a limited palette of indigo blues.
In addition to her slip-cast range, Lucile is always looking to push her practice into new areas – a passion which last year saw her build her own 3D printer with her partner (who is a designer too), funded in part by an online crowdfunding campaign. The 3D printed work is separate from Lucile’s other ceramic practice – the printer extrudes a 2mm ‘worm’ of clay based on a 3D drawing – in essence, it’s a digital form of ceramic coil building. Very impressive! Lucile and her partner are about to release their first series of 3D printed ceramics after six months of research and experimentation undertaken during a residency at Northcote Pottery Supplies.
Tell us a little bit about your background – what did you study and what path led you to what you are doing today?
I studied Object Design in France at a school that sat between fine art and design. My projects were all handmade, and I learned how to work across wood, metal and ceramics. When I undertook my Masters degree in the Netherlands, I began to incorporate design research into my projects. I graduated with a thesis about the link between the hand, the brain and the object throughout human evolution. When I was not writing my thesis, I would spend all of my spare time in the school’s ceramic studio.
When I came to Melbourne, I moved into a house across the road from Northcote Pottery Supplies, so I had no excuse not to pursue my ceramic practice! I took over a shed in my garden, which has become my studio, and I have been practicing pottery ever since.
How would you describe your work, and what influences your aesthetic?
I slip cast porcelain to make archetypal functional wares. Since I arrived in Melbourne, I’ve been working with a limited palette of colours, and always use a stain in the slip rather than coloured glazes. Each pattern I make is unique, and I like the randomness of each piece. Every one is different, and different people are drawn to different ones!
Coming from a design background, I’m always trying to make outside the box and break the rules about how things should be made. I experiment a lot with colours, shapes and patterns. Often luck and randomness play a part in my process – I’ll sometimes see a shape or a line in nature or in a painting, and it will spark an idea about what I could make. I also trust my hands’ ability, and try not to overthink what I’m making!
How did you originally become involved with ceramics? What drew you to this craft initially?
In my bachelor studies, I worked a lot with plaster. From there, moving to ceramics was a natural progression. I like ceramics’ versatility; that it’s a natural material; that there is a process to follow, and you can return to work on the object several times. As I don’t have a degree in ceramics, I’m always learning a lot – but you learn as you go, and other people have been so generous and helpful! That support gave me confidence to start my studio, I don’t think I would have been comfortable to start making ceramics in France.
Can you give us a little insight into your creative process? Do you work alone, collaborate or outsource any significant aspects of your practice?
I work alone in my tiny studio in the backyard, but I live with lots of creative people so there are always inspiring people passing through. In my creative process, I draw a lot and experiment with the pieces themselves. I take time to reflect on the objects, and have them around me for a while before deciding to go into production. I’ve been working on a new slip cast series for some time, but I haven’t nailed it yet!
I have had some commissions, for example for Soap Club, and I love working with other people. I actually miss collaborating with others, but there are a few small projects coming up which will see me back working in a group.
You’ve recently been working with 3D printing to produce your works, can you tell us a bit about this techonology, how it works and how you use it in relation to your practice?
Last year, I set up a crowdfunding campaign to help me set up my studio and build a 3D printer. This year, I completed the ceramic 3D printer with my partner (he’s a designer too). The 3D printed work is separate from my other ceramic practice, and technically and practically it’s very particular. We have to consider completely different parameters for the forms and ideas we generate. The 3D printer has a moving print head, which extrudes a 2mm worm of clay according to the input of 3D drawing software. It’s a digital form of coil building.
We are about to release our first series in 3D printed ceramics, after six months of research and experimentation that we undertook during our residency at Northcote Pottery Supplies.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
I wake up about 7.30am and do the most important thing first: letting the chickens out of their coop. Then I have porridge with my partner and housemates, and head out the back into the studio, or across the road to the 3D printing studio. It’s a full day of work, punctuated by lunch at home and going back and forth from the studio to the kiln across the road, remembering to change out of my slippers before going out in public. I listen to music and have friends over who work alongside me or just chat.
For example my housemate Kaleena is a printmaker who is experimenting with ceramics. At the moment, she is drawing beautiful figures and scenes on my slip cast wares. Depending on how much work there is to be done, I might work late, or have a night out with friends.
Which other Australian designers, artists or creative people are you loving at the moment?
Lucas Grogan – I love his drawings and the way they are detailed and dense. I love the ones he makes in public spaces and in bars. I can spend ages looking at them.
Dawn Vachon – I love her most recent work ‘blobs’ which are abstract sculptures. I can follow the process and see them evolving when I see them alongside my work on the shelves at Northcote Pottery Supplies.
Kathy Holowko – I really like her layered reclaimed timber shells, which remind me of fish scales. I love the texture and colours, and the patterns it creates.
Can you list for your top resources across any media that you turn to when you’re in a need of a bolt of creative inspiration?
Instagram, as I like to see peoples’ process, and Pinterest because it’s a good way to collect images and springboard off other’s interests. I also read a lot of books, head to NGV or Melbourne Museum to encounter something unexpected, and let my mind wander, or just generally get out into nature and get some fresh air!
What is your proudest career achievement to date?
It’s hard to be a maker, so combined with moving to the other side of the world; setting up my studio and trying to make it sustainable; it’s an ever evolving challenge that I am trying to fulfil. I’m proud that I’ve got this far, and it’s a bit boring, but I just want to make this my ongoing achievement, to support myself through my practice (and to try and have fun at the same time!).
What would be your dream creative project?
I would love to collaborate with specialists from different professions who have different needs, for instance a florist, a chef, or a perfumer. We would work together to design an entire set of pieces, where the process would be fruitful exchange of ideas, and a true joint effort.
What are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to summer. It’s hard to work making ceramics in a shed at the back of the house when its cold and wet! I love Melbourne heat, and can’t wait for and a cold beer in the park on a warm night.
Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?
I live and work in Brunswick, so it’s the one I know the best. I love that the houses here have huge backyards, and we can still live close to the city – that would never be possible in Europe! People are really down to earth, and theres a nice mix of Nonnas and hipster folk. Many of my friends live within riding or walking distance. There are lots of nice hidden shops, and many artists and makers living nearby.
What and where was the best meal you recently had in Melbourne?
I cook a lot at home, and also eat at friend’s places. Every Monday night I eat with friends and we have a roast together – as the French import, I always make dessert! When I go out, I go to restaurants which cook food that I don’t know how to make. I really like Hellenic Republic and Mamak in the city.
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
Sometimes we go to Green Refectory for breakfast when we have a lazy Saturday morning. After, we go to the Vic Market to get boxes of fruit, vegetables, delicatessen and meat supplies for the week. If it’s not a nice day for a bike ride, we’ll get a couple of kilos of seasonal fruit or vegetables, and make a pickle or jam.
Melbourne’s best kept secret?
Maybe its not a big secret, but I love going to Life Drawing at No Vacancy Gallery in the city. For me, its like yoga. I can switch off my brain and just draw.