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Holly Macdonald


Working from a shared studio in Glebe in Sydney’s inner west, ceramicist Holly Macdonald creates the most beautiful, delicate handpainted vessels and ceramic accessories.

Holly doesn’t have a website (apparently, its launch is imminent!) but we’re breaking our own rules today by featuring her anyway. We LOVE her work.

18th February, 2016
Lucy Feagins
Thursday 18th February 2016

Holly Macdonald is a thoughtful, inquisitive creative. She studied fine art, majoring in ceramics at the National Art School in Sydney. But before that, she studied architecture and engineering. ‘Right idea, wrong scale!’ Holly says!

Having grown up between the country and the city, Holly feels a strong connection to the country, and credits an understanding of ‘the natural systems that govern the land’ as a major influence in her work. She spent six months of last year driving through the national parks along the West coast of the U.S.A, and now finds herself with ‘a head full of mountains and lakes’ which she is slowly translating into her ceramic forms!

Holly uses handbuilding to create her wonderfully wonky, organic forms. ‘I like how handbuilding allows the physical nature of clay, it’s personality, to come through’ she says. Her smaller forms are made using a pinch pot technique, whilst larger vessels are built using the coil method. What really gives Holly’s vessels their distinctive look, though, are the delicate handpainted motifs she embellishes each with.

‘The drawing begins away from the clay, in a sketch book that I carry with me everywhere’ says Holly. Using a combination of ceramic pencils, stained slips and glazes, her designs come to life.

2016 is set to be a big year for Holly.  She’s intent on grasping each opportunity that crosses her path with both hands!  ‘At this point I am saying yes to everything – any opportunity to make and show work and engage with an audience is going to teach me something about my practice and it’s potential to communicate with people.’ she says.

Holly is looking forward to her first solo show in July at Sabbia Gallery in Paddington. Having set herself the challenge of working with her ceramics on a larger scale, she’s nervous but excited to get started! She also has a very special collaboration in the works with her Mum, Catherine Hickson, who is a painter. ‘It will be a very special project exploring connections to land and it’s histories, culminating in an exhibition towards the end of the year’ says Holly.

Holly’s work can be seen currently in a group exhibition entitled ‘At The Beginning’ at Tiny Tailor Gallery in Chippendale, Sydney. Her website is launching soon, in the meantime, enquiries can be directed here.

Sydney artist and ceramicist Holly Macdonald in her studio. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email