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The Melbourne Ceramicist Inspired By Japanese Ikebana

Studio Visit

We see a lot of ceramics. But Kate Brouwer’s stunning handcrafted vessels, with their perfectly imperfect forms and divine textural glazes really had us at HELLO.

Since launching her brand, Asobimasu Clay, in 2016, Kate’s practice has gone from strength to strength. And, eagle eyes will notice her beautiful work is shortlisted in the TDF Design Awards Handcrafted category!

We recently stopped by Bisque Studios, a stunning shared workspace Kate has recently founded in Northcote, to learn more about her passion for clay.

23rd July, 2019

Kate Brouwer of Asobimasu Clay. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

The Melbourne-based ceramicist at the wheel. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Kate recently established Bisque Studios, a shared artist space also offering workshops. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Inside Bisque Studio in Northcote, Melbourne. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Kate creates her pieces using a combination of wheel throwing and hand-building techniques. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Asobimasu Clay ceramics. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Kate’s Kaiketsu Vase. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

‘Having carved out time and space to grow, I feel like I’m only just planting my roots into where I really want to be and how I want to create,’ tells Kate. I’m excited for everything at this point.’ Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Asobimasu Clay vessels. Photo – Adam Brady.

The vase seeks to create a reciprocal relationship between form and nature, rather than dominate and constrict. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

This ceramicist is increasingly interested in creating sculptural pieces. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Elle Murrell
Tuesday 23rd July 2019

‘I’m very aware of how much our city loves ceramics and clay. I feel very lucky to be exploring my creative ideas within a medium that has gained so much respect and adoration.’ – Kate Brouwer.

Sometimes you just know where you need to be… ‘I’ve made my way through many different creative projects over time, but it was a love for flowers and a curiosity for Ikebana that led me back to clay,’ explains Kate Brouwer.

The talented ceramicist launched Asobimasu Clay in early 2016, after feeling lost and unhappy in her working life. ‘It was a quick decision, I needed to spend more time creatively focussed. I rented a studio where I began to get my hands dirty,’ Kate recalls. ‘Figuring out how to make things work financially wasn’t really on my mind at that stage, I just wanted to create.’

Kate is inspired by nature, and has a verdant curiosity of Japanese Ikebana, along with architecture, form, and surface. Using a combination of wheel throwing and hand-building, she will sometimes begin with a sketch, but more often than not discovers forms through play. As a final test, Kate will create floral arrangements within a vase to see if the way she imagined the vessel interacting with flowers and branches has been realised.

While her output is constantly evolving, the Kaiketsu Vase has emerged as a striking signature piece among a number of staple designs, and is Kate’s personal favourite. The vessel seeks to create a reciprocal relationship between form and nature, rather than dominate and constrict its contents. ‘Kaiketsu is a Japanese word meaning resolution. The Kaiketsu Vase, for me, is my most resolved work. And is what I believe a vase should be,’ explains the ceramicist.

Kate currently creates from the beautiful new Bisque Studios, a shared artist space with a focus on ceramics. She is grateful to share the studio with other makers who can relate to the ups and downs of her craft – Tantri Mustika and Grace Brown from Oh Hey Grace also work out of this shared space. ‘Clay has so many challenges, it’s a beautiful end process that has so many precarious steps. Clay body, glaze fit, firing temperatures, drying times… so many things can go wrong,’ Kate tells. ‘We all speak and share openly about our knowledge and downfalls, that’s what I love most about the ceramic community, we support each other.’

Relishing that collaboration, next month Kate is participating in and curating Form and Assemble as part of Craft Victoria’s annual Craft Cubed festival. She hopes the event will showcase Victoria’s diverse ceramic culture, and provide a platform for artists to connect. ‘Clay is full of endless opportunities,’ she beams, ‘the more I know, the more I want to seek’.

Form and Assemble
August 10th and 11th
Bisque Studios
2/167 Beavers Road
Northcote, Victoria

Find out more about Kate Brouwer’s ceramic practice at Asobimasuclay.com or by following on Instagram @asobimasu_clay.

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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