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A New Collection From One Of Melbourne's Most Established Ceramicists

Studio Visit

Sophie Moran is a talented and established Australian ceramicist, whose work has quietly but surely made an indelible mark on Melbourne’s creative scene over the past 20 years.

From fine porcelain pieces to more relaxed stoneware imbued with character, Sophie’s output over the past two decades has been varied and prolific. Today we sit down to reflect on her career, and to explore her beautiful new Quarry Collection.

8th January, 2019

New ceramics from Sophie Moran‘s Quarry Collection. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Potter Sophie Moran. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

A mood board of the potter’s inspirations – she admits her home city has a big influence! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Details from Sophie’s Brunswick share space. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

‘It is important to be vocal about quality in ceramics and the more discussion about the inherent values of a good pot the better,’ explains the maker. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Sophie completed a degree in philosophy and literature, before a short course in pottery exposed an inner passion for creating. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

‘It is wonderful seeing an audience that is interested in where and how the pieces have been made,’ says Sophie. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

In 2019, the potter is looking forward to plunging headfirst into testing new ideas. ‘It’s exciting to be making in a time when the appreciation and understanding of handmade ceramics is growing in the wider community,’ she beams. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Elle Murrell
Tuesday 8th January 2019

‘The tone, colour, and tactility of the glazes I develop aim to encourage the user to take pause, a moment of rest and nourishment.’ – Sophie Moran.

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.

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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 bea@thedesignfiles.net