Melbourne born and bred, Sophie Moran grew up in a happy suburban family – ‘tree climbing, homemade soft toys, doting older brothers, camping holidays and square meals of meat and three veg!’ she tells. That said, she never took much notice of the crockery serving up those quintessential meals, and didn’t fathom producing such wares until decades later.
‘I whiled away a few aimless years on an Arts Degree in philosophy and literature, before a short course in pottery exposed an inner passion for creating I never knew I had,’ explains Sophie. After a year or so of playing around with clay, she was eager to learn more, and enrolled in a Diploma of Ceramics at Box Hill TAFE – a comprehensive course that exposed her to a diverse cross section of inspiring creative approaches. Upon finishing, she set up a business with two other recent graduates… and has been a full-time potter since!
That was 20 years ago. Moving from sheds, shops, potteries and warehouses all around the northern suburbs of Melbourne, today, Sophie works from a collective creative space in Brunswick. Over the years she has transitioned from working solely in delicate porcelain clay to stoneware clay and to taking a softer, more relaxed approach. ‘One day I unpacked the kiln and inspected the finished pieces and although the level of refinement made me content with my advancing skills, I felt the pieces lacked the mark of the maker and their inherent “humanity”,’ she explains. ‘So a few years ago I returned to a less demanding stoneware clay, throwing more loosely and making marks on surfaces. I now feel my work is progressing on a more honest path.’
Sophie’s recent Quarry Collection is made from a blend of richly-hued stoneware clays, with striking faceted textures, and smooth functional surfaces. ‘Everything I make is thrown on the potter’s wheel, and I hand carve the surface of these pieces, making each piece worthy of quiet consideration,’ explains the modest maker. ‘Similarly the tone, colour, and tactility of the glazes I develop aim to encourage the user to take pause, a moment of rest and nourishment.’
Last year was a year of intense business development for the creative, moving from wholesaling her wares to building her own online platform, and also striving for a balance between quantity and quality of output in our faced-paced culture. ‘There is certainly a desire to have everything quickly and that’s just not possible with the ceramic process,’ she highlights. ‘It’s hard to say no to commissions when you are self-employed but I have learned to be selective. If there’s a rush, it’s just not worth it – good things take time.’
This ‘Melbourne girl’ insists she is a product of her environment. ‘I develop new ideas through keen observation and the impact of my locality on my work is great,’ she tells. ‘As a maker of functional tableware, I am also interested in how meals are served in the homes of my community. I am fortunate to live in a multicultural society where the diversity in home-cooked food is boundless.’
See more of Sophie Moran’s wares at Sophiemoran.studio or by following her @sophiejanemoran.