Studio Visit

Susan Simonini · Double Happy

With an exciting move to Tasmania coming up, painter and ceramicist Susan Simonini is wrapping up her Queensland-based practice with a celebratory exhibition aptly titled ‘Double Happy’, opening at Paper Boat Press in Brisbane on September 8th.

Susan has been a practicing artist for many years, but following her transition to clay the past few years have seen her truly flourish!

Jo Hoban

Queensland artist Susan Simonini. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

‘I love to pinch and coil the clay and most of my tableware is made using hand rolled slabs and plaster moulds,’ says Susan. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

‘My painting and ceramics inform one another. Often I’ll be drawing and painting, and suddenly a colour, line or shape will spark an idea for a ceramic piece,’ tells the artist. ‘I love the immediacy of painting, but also perversely enjoy the process and unpredictability of ceramics.’ Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

Susan’s highly decorated pieces, which are a clear extension of her painting and printmaking practice. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

Jo Hoban
5th of September 2017

The creative path can be particularly winding and uncertain, as much as it may be flecked with gold. Susan Simonini studied fine art then spent 15 years as a professional painter, working very hard to carve out a semi-regular income. When the Global Financial Crisis hit, the galleries that represented Susan closed, so she returned to university and completed a teaching diploma. Her head urged her on, but Susan’s heart yearned for greater creative freedom. Frustrated, she enrolled in an evening pottery class and swiftly fell for clay. Its surfaces offered opportunities for decoration that integrated her fine art practice, and the functional forms gave the work an appealing sense of purpose.

Back in 2013, Susan popped a few pieces on Etsy and was thrilled when they were quickly snapped up. ‘In contrast to my painting career, one thing just seemed to naturally and easily lead to another!’ Susan explains. Today the artist has a thriving practice and a large, enthusiastic audience. Her ceramic work is simple, rustic and whimsical and tends toward two strands: one more organic in nature and glazed to enhance the earthiness of the clay, and the other highly decorated – a clear extension of Susan’s painting and printmaking practice.

Working from a home-based studio on the Gold Coast, Susan has transformed a single garage into her clay space, and an attached room is used for admin and design/art. Yes, Susan has also maintained her painting practice, and has an exciting exhibition coming up which incorporates both!

‘Double Happy’ will run at Paper Boat Press in Brisbane from September 8th to 23rd. ‘My customers often say that my ceramics or art makes them happy, and this exhibition explores how an object can affect our mood. Is there an unintentional purpose beyond an object’s functional use? Does surface decoration change a cup or a bowl into a work of art? Using decoration, colour and form, I’ve tried to make pieces which embody happiness.’

Following ‘Double Happy’ Susan and her husband are making the big move to Tassie! With their three sons now old enough to fend (mostly) for themselves, the couple have acreage near Devonport where they plan to create a new home and pottery studio, and to simplify their lifestyle. We wish them oodles of happiness!

‘Double Happy’ by Susan Simonini
September 8th to September 23rd
Opening Night Friday 8th September, 6 to 8pm
Paper Boat Press
60 Ashgrove Crescent, Ashgrove, Brisbane

Keep up to date with the next chapter of Susan’s creative journey in Tasmania by following her Instagram feed, here.

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