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Japanese Design Meets Mid-Century Modern In These Sculptural Ceramics

Creative People

It’s hard to place, or date the work of Melbourne-based ceramicist Jan Vogelpoel. Her exquisite handcrafted ceramics feel distinctly ‘international’ – you feel you’re looking at something made in Scandinavia, even though they’re made right here in Melbourne. Equally, these contemporary collectibles have a strong sense of nostalgia about them, and would be right at home in a mid century setting!

Today we take a tour of Jan’s sunny Kew studio, to learn more about the intention behind her craft.

3rd September, 2019

Photo – Elisa Watson.

Photo – Elisa Watson.

Photo – Elisa Watson.

Photo – Elisa Watson.

Photo – Elisa Watson.

Photo – Elisa Watson.

Photo – Elisa Watson.

Photo – Elisa Watson.

Photo – Elisa Watson.

Photo – Elisa Watson.

‘For the first time I am creating for myself – no brief, no deadlines, no demanding clients. Just me and the clay!’ – Jan Vogelpoel.

UK-born, South African-raised and now Melbourne-based ceramicist Jan Vogelpoel initially studied graphic design and was drawn to clients in ‘exciting and dynamic industries’ like architecture, interior design and fashion. ‘I always had the desire to create something more tangible’, Jan tells of her graphic design career, enrolling in part-time ceramic classes with famed South African ceramicist Barbara Jackson and later teacher Karen Scott. And so started Jan’s love affair with ceramics – ‘once you get the clay bug, it’s really difficult to let it go’!

Working between her light-filled quiet home studio in Kew, and fellow ceramicist Tracy Muirhead’s lively and social pottery studio in Donvale, Jan draws on her experience in graphic design to create sculptural ceramic artworks celebrating line and form with architectural flair. She uses the coiling method to create the initial forms, then spends time refining and shaping each one-of-a-kind object. Her passion lies in the process of bringing an idea to life through manipulating and building sculptural pieces, transferring the energy of the maker, and the story of the material, into each piece.

‘I’ve found that different clays tell different stories’, Jan explains of her intuitive process. ‘They may have a similar organic form and share a strong connection but they look and feel very different.’ While a soft, white fine sculpture clay evokes a feeling of lightness and elegance, a black scarva clay feels solid and grounded in the past.

For Jan, the ultimate satisfaction is found in seeing the way her objects exist in the world ‘styled up in shoots and in beautiful homes’, and in the freedom of exercising her unbridled creativity. ‘For the first time I am creating for myself – no brief, no deadlines, no demanding clients. Just me and the clay!’

Jan is represented by Edwina Corlette Gallery in Brisbane, and work is available to purchase at Modern Times. She has been shortlisted for the Victorian Craft Awards exhibition in November this year!

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