This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Ceramics That Celebrate The Decline Of The Disposable

Studio Visit

Ceramicist and artist Shari Lowndes of Szilvassy spent much of her childhood in the lush landscapes of Northern New South Wales. A connection to nature not only inspired her, but directly informs her practice. Her hands are not just in the clay, but also in the earth, where she digs and hand processes her materials.

We speak with the philosophical ceramicist about the journey of her first collection, Aether, and her optimistic outlook for the decline of the disposable.

10th September, 2019

Cups and mugs from Shari Lowndes first collection, Aether. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Shari wheel throws and turns each individual piece. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Shari at work on the wheel. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Tools in the studio. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Glaze testing and objects. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Shari works one day a week at SOCA in Carlton North and spends the rest of her time developing her practice. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

A larger piece from Shari’s studio. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Shari’s Carlton North studio. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Shari Lowndes, ceramicist and founder of Szilvassy. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Objects in the studio. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Sally Tabart
Tuesday 10th September 2019

‘I have to look at this period as exciting, as it announces the need to decline in our disposable culture and encourage a new relationship with the objects we choose to live with’. – Shari Lowndes.

Growing up in Northern New South Wales, the subtropical landscape of ceramicist Shari Lowndes’ childhood was ‘wild and abundant’. Living on a stagnant volcano (!), the family’s remote location meant that Shari was homeschooled for most of her primary school-aged years, forging ‘an early love for artistic expression’. After completing high school in Beechworth, Shari moved to Melbourne, and in 2014 commenced an Art program at SOCA (School of Clay and Art) in Brunswick, where she now works one day a week as a studio technician. The rest of the week Shari focuses on her own practice under the name SZILVASSY, recently launching her first collection of functional handmade vessels.

Comprising 12 wheel thrown and turned pieces, Aether is a simple series of tableware that highlights the natural qualities of the clay, paying respect to the origins of the material. Made from Australian red clay and finished with a Wattle ash-based glaze, Shari has developed a keen interest in the origin of clays throughout Australia, traveling to various locations, digging and hand processing the clay herself. ‘It has become a labour of love – an enjoyably messy one’ she says!

Shari connects this collection to a quote from celebrated British sculptor and environmentalist Andy Goldsworthy, in reference to the colour red in nature – ‘The red is a vein running around the earth. It has taught me about the flow, energy and life that connects one place with another’. For Shari, this is reminiscent of where she grew up, on land enriched by red iron oxides. ‘My formative years influenced how I see the world, and defined an intimate relationship with nature’, she tells. ‘This has embedded a values system that I draw on in my artistic practice today’.

Shari’s practice is as much rooted in philosophy as it is the act of creating itself. Citing Japanese sensibilities as an inspiration, she finds deep satisfaction in the time and energy taken to resolve each piece, and how this commitment is imbued in the final product. More broadly, she sees a ‘vast collective movement’ guiding us towards placing higher value on the process. ‘This comes at a critical time when we need to be accountable for what we produce and place in the world’, she says. ‘I have to look at this period as exciting, as it announces the need to decline in our disposable culture and encourage a new relationship with the objects we choose to live with’.

With this positive outlook, the future looks bright for Shari. Later this year, she will be in New York to work on a private commission, and early next year will show a solo exhibition showcasing larger scale and sculptural works.

This Week

Father's Day Favourites

Announcing The Design Files Father's Day Favourites 2022!

Find the best gifts for dad and score special deals with our Father's Day Favourites online shopping event!

Architecture

Turning Back Time In A Classic Melbourne Brick Home

Agius Scorpo Architects strip a Yarraville, Melbourne house back to basics, revealing and enhancing functional spaces within.
Amelia Barnes
  4 hours ago

Father's Day Favourites

Find The Perfect Book For Dad With 20% Off From Hardie Grant Publishing!

From the best barbecuing recipes to epic travel inspiration, you'll find the perfect book for dad in our edit of Hardie Grant Publishing's f...
Christina Karras

Interiors

How This First-Time Renovator Transformed Her Pint-Sized Melbourne Apartment

A tiny renovation (34 square metres, to be precise) – that packs a big punch!

Homes

A Historic Melbourne Apartment With Artful, Lived-In Interiors

Interior designer Leigh Ellwood invites us inside her 1930s Beverley Hills apartment in South Yarra.

Interiors

A Majestic Garden House That Transcends Aesthetics

The landscape is the mesmerising star of the show in Garden House by Arent&Pyke and Polly Harbison Design.

Father's Day Favourites

Elevate Your Dad's Wardrobe This Father's Day With An Epic 20% Off Seed Heritage!

Seed Heritage has everything you need to level up your gift-giving efforts and dad’s personal style - and we have a special 20% offer for
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Inside Elena Strohfeldt's Beautifully Therapeutic Ceramics Practice

How the self taught artist started making ceramics as a way to work through a painful trauma, channeling it into whimsical vessels.
Christina Karras

Stays

Escape To An Adorable Country Cottage Overlooking The Grampians

Stoneycroft Cottage features a 1864-built bluestone cottage and converted shearer's quarters, on a picturesque farm in regional Victoria!
Christina Karras
  12 hours ago

News

Shop Dreamy Pastel Landscapes In Collection III From ‘Palette by Jono Fleming’

Introducing interior stylist Jono Fleming’s third art collaboration with Sicilian-Australian artist Chanel Sohier.
Christina Karras

Father's Day Favourites

Give Dad A Dose Of (Stylish) Wanderlust With Bespoke Luggage From July!

Gift dad bespoke luggage from our favourite travel brand July and receive a complimentary personalised luggage tag worth $85!

On The Market

A Former Shopfront Turned Architecturally-Designed Home In Coburg Hits The Market

Behind an unassuming facade unfolds a brilliantly designed and sun-filled Coburg home, and it's for sale!

Shopping

Kip&Co Team Up With Robert Gordon For A Fun-Filled Ceramic Range

The loveable local brands have created a new playful ceramics collection, bringing prints and colour to range of hand-crafted vases!
Christina Karras

Father's Day Favourites

Shop Luxurious Outdoor Essentials For Dad With 20% Off The Grampians Goods Co.

This one is for the dads who love camping, picnics, and a hot cocoa by the fire! We've got 20% off The Grampian Goods Co.!
Christina Karras

News

Nicole Lawrence Studio And Curio Practice Pop Up In Sydney

The two rising design stars open the doors to their week-long shop and showroom in Paddington.

Similar Stories

Creative People

Japanese Design Meets Mid-Century Modern In These Sculptural Ceramics

Melbourne-based ceramicist Jan Vogelpoel celebrates clay through her architectural ceramic forms.

Studio Visit

The Melbourne Ceramicist Inspired By Japanese Ikebana

A studio visit with Kate Brouwer of Asobimasu Clay, one of Melbourne's most exciting makers!
Elle Murrell

Studio Visit

The Reinvention Of A Beloved Brisbane Artist

A chance meeting with a potter abroad inspired Rose Jensen-Holm to turn to the wheel, with a new exhibition opening this Friday.
Jo Hoban

This Week

Father's Day Favourites

Shop Luxurious Outdoor Essentials For Dad With 20% Off The Grampians Goods Co.

This one is for the dads who love camping, picnics, and a hot cocoa by the fire! We've got 20% off The Grampian Goods Co.!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Majestic Garden House That Transcends Aesthetics

The landscape is the mesmerising star of the show in Garden House by Arent&Pyke and Polly Harbison Design.

Father's Day Favourites

Announcing The Design Files Father's Day Favourites 2022!

Find the best gifts for dad and score special deals with our Father's Day Favourites online shopping event!

Father's Day Favourites

Elevate Your Dad's Wardrobe This Father's Day With An Epic 20% Off Seed Heritage!

Seed Heritage has everything you need to level up your gift-giving efforts and dad’s personal style - and we have a special 20% offer for
Christina Karras

Interiors

How This First-Time Renovator Transformed Her Pint-Sized Melbourne Apartment

A tiny renovation (34 square metres, to be precise) – that packs a big punch!

Shopping

Kip&Co Team Up With Robert Gordon For A Fun-Filled Ceramic Range

The loveable local brands have created a new playful ceramics collection, bringing prints and colour to range of hand-crafted vases!
Christina Karras

Father's Day Favourites

Give Dad A Dose Of (Stylish) Wanderlust With Bespoke Luggage From July!

Gift dad bespoke luggage from our favourite travel brand July and receive a complimentary personalised luggage tag worth $85!

On The Market

A Former Shopfront Turned Architecturally-Designed Home In Coburg Hits The Market

Behind an unassuming facade unfolds a brilliantly designed and sun-filled Coburg home, and it's for sale!

Homes

A Historic Melbourne Apartment With Artful, Lived-In Interiors

Interior designer Leigh Ellwood invites us inside her 1930s Beverley Hills apartment in South Yarra.

News

Nicole Lawrence Studio And Curio Practice Pop Up In Sydney

The two rising design stars open the doors to their week-long shop and showroom in Paddington.

News

Shop Dreamy Pastel Landscapes In Collection III From ‘Palette by Jono Fleming’

Introducing interior stylist Jono Fleming’s third art collaboration with Sicilian-Australian artist Chanel Sohier.
Christina Karras

Stays

Escape To An Adorable Country Cottage Overlooking The Grampians

Stoneycroft Cottage features a 1864-built bluestone cottage and converted shearer's quarters, on a picturesque farm in regional Victoria!
Christina Karras
  12 hours ago

Architecture

Turning Back Time In A Classic Melbourne Brick Home

Agius Scorpo Architects strip a Yarraville, Melbourne house back to basics, revealing and enhancing functional spaces within.
Amelia Barnes
  4 hours ago

Studio Visit

Inside Elena Strohfeldt's Beautifully Therapeutic Ceramics Practice

How the self taught artist started making ceramics as a way to work through a painful trauma, channeling it into whimsical vessels.
Christina Karras

Father's Day Favourites

Find The Perfect Book For Dad With 20% Off From Hardie Grant Publishing!

From the best barbecuing recipes to epic travel inspiration, you'll find the perfect book for dad in our edit of Hardie Grant Publishing's f...
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Creative People

Japanese Design Meets Mid-Century Modern In These Sculptural Ceramics

Melbourne-based ceramicist Jan Vogelpoel celebrates clay through her architectural ceramic forms.

Studio Visit

The Melbourne Ceramicist Inspired By Japanese Ikebana

A studio visit with Kate Brouwer of Asobimasu Clay, one of Melbourne's most exciting makers!
Elle Murrell

Studio Visit

The Reinvention Of A Beloved Brisbane Artist

A chance meeting with a potter abroad inspired Rose Jensen-Holm to turn to the wheel, with a new exhibition opening this Friday.
Jo Hoban

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