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

Meet The Award-Winning Young Ceramicist Making Intriguing Sculptures

Studio Visit

Bendigo-based ceramicist Jess Graham’s organic and bulging creations caught our editor, Lucy Feagins’ eye at the Craft Victoria Fresh! Awards last year.

From a list of impressive graduates across craft, design and fine art, Lucy selected Jess for The Design Files Emerging Maker Award – and she also took home The John Wardle Architects Craft Prize!

Now, the clever young creative has set up her own home studio space, where we recently stopped by to hear more about her growing practice.

8th September, 2022

Ceramicist Jess Graham at work! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘I like to create both functional and sculptural pieces, most of the time all are vessels,’ Jess says. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

She graduated from her Bachelor of Fine Art at RMIT University last year, and the industry has already taken note! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘From 2020-2022 I worked in a room separate from the house out the back of my mums place.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Jess has recently taken over the shed space in her share house for her ceramics practice. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Her wobbly, bulging vessels up close! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘Some of my larger pieces or pieces that have more complex bulges can take a lot more time and I can be working on any large individual piece for up to 1-2 weeks. Given the waiting time I often work on at least 3 pieces of the one clay body at one time and might have up to 3 different clay bodies on the go at once,’ Jess says. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Christina Karras
Thursday 8th September 2022

Jess Graham’s passion for ceramics has been unwavering since she was introduced to the medium as a high school elective in year eight. She was immediately drawn to the tactile process of building something up from a simple block of clay. Jess wound up taking the subject for the rest of her schooling career, and then into university.

The emerging creative graduated from her Bachelor of Fine Art at RMIT in the middle of last year. Her three-year course was stretched out to three and a half years because of the pandemic, but it pushed her to ‘create a space’ for herself and her art – literally and figuratively!

‘I’ve always enjoyed hand building pieces, and although I do still wheel throw things and use my pottery wheel, I do love the way that hand build pieces look,’ Jess says.

‘Throughout my degree I always found myself gravitating to natural clay bodies and not using a whole heap of colour in my work. It wasn’t until the final year of my degree that I started making my bulge pieces, but I don’t see myself stopping any time soon.’

It was these slightly kooky creations with organic, overflowing ‘bulges’ that earned Jess a spot in Craft Victoria’s annual Fresh! Awards, where she took home two coveted prizes, including The Design Files Emerging Maker Award and The John Wardle Architects Craft Prize, much to Jess’s surprise!

‘Winning two prizes at the Craft Victoria Fresh! Awards was a huge shock to me,’ she says. ‘I was going into the opening of the exhibition just to admire the work around me and not expecting a thing.’

Now an award-winning graduate, Jess is a ceramicist by day and a hospitality worker in a local pub by night – and on weekends. Her practice has a dual focus too, as she creates both functional and sculptural pieces. These range from simple, speckled cups, bowls and vases, to her more sculptural pieces and unique vessels, inspired by the human form (which explains her shapely creations!) and the work of another Melbourne ceramicist Zhu Ohmu.

Jess has recently set up her own studio space in the back of her share house, where she’s busy working on new pieces and a possible collection, so watch this space!

Shop Jess Graham’s works online here.

This Week

News

Visit Local Artist Kate Florence's Colourful New Exhibition

See (and shop!) Kate’s abstract paintings and sculptures created in collaboration with Neighbourhood Studio in Melbourne this week.
Christina Karras

Homes

An Elegant Art Deco Apartment Rental With Water Views

Jill McCormick's fashionable home for one, in Sydney's dreamy Elizabeth Bay.
2.25

Art

The NGA’s Cressida Campbell Exhibition Celebrates Her Glorious 40-Year Career

A studio visit with Cressida Campbell, ahead of her exciting survey exhibition at the National Gallery Of Australia.

News

An Unmissable Pop-Up This Saturday Bringing Together Melbourne’s Best Creatives!

The exciting 005 Abode pop-up features stalls from makers like Lucy Tolan, Ella Reweti, Fisch and more in Alt-House’s Fitzroy warehous...
Christina Karras

Shopping

Meet The Business Creating Fully Customisable Furniture Right Here In Melbourne

We visited Zenn Design at their brand-new Melbourne showroom to learn about their bespoke, luxury furniture offerings!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Vintage Furniture Collector’s Humble Family Home, Filled With Iconic Pieces

IT engineer Trung Tu's Melbourne home hides an enviable collection of designer furniture and art from different eras!
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

The Haunting, Shadow-Inspired Paintings Of Melbourne Artist Ella Dunn

How the imaginative banter of two children on a set of swings inspired the artist's latest body of work.

Art

This Vibrant Exhibition Brings Together Traditional Sculpture + Contemporary Art For A Story On Legacy

Brunswick Street Gallery presents 'Aak Puul: Art From The Wik & Kugu Region'; a bold showcase of the strength of Wik Kugu culture. 

Architecture

An Inside Look At Domain Park: Melbourne’s Revolutionary 1960s Apartment Building

Once the tallest residential building in Melbourne, Robin Boyd's Domain Park (1962) paved the way for a new era of apartment living.

News

Step Inside Some Of Tasmania’s Most Unique Homes At Open House Hobart

Your chance to visit Hobart’s best homes and buildings on November 12 – 13!
Sponsored

Architecture

The New Australian Housing Company Creating Customisable Small Homes

Dimensions X aims to be the ‘Tesla of housing’, creating energy-efficient, prefabricated homes that can be assembled in just six weeks.

Interiors

A Contemporary New Home Grounded In An Earthy, Natural Palette

Inspired by his client's extensive art collection, interior designer Brahman Perera creates a stunning, timeless home.

News

Typo's New Homewares Range Has Everything You Need For A 'Big Night In'

The local brand known for their playful stationary and homewares has released their latest range of quirky bean bags, cushions and decor!
Sponsored

Shopping

Sarah Ellison + Pantone Team Up To Create The 70s-Inspired Sofa Of Our Dreams

Meet Sarah Ellison's luxurious retro-inspired sofa, FLOAT, wrapped in its custom Pantone colour; a rich coffee brown called Piccolo!
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Treehouse Companion For An Architecturally-Significant Noosa Home

An innovative 1983 Gabriel Poole house on the same site inspired this new home by Bark Architects embracing the bushy Noosa landscape.

Similar Stories

Studio Visit

Beci Orpin’s Shared Studio Is Just As Colourful + Cheerful As You’d Expect!

Inside the charming studio of Beci Orpin, Ellie King and Hoddle, decked out with all the best things from local makers and creators.

Studio Visit

Byron-Based Artist Bianca Pintan's Vividly Colourful World Of Ceramics

The Brazilian-born artist now works and lives in Byron Bay, pushing the boundaries with her bold and bright ceramics.
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

The Melbourne Designer Who Found His Niche Making Sculptural + Sustainable Plant Stakes!

Melbourne startup 'Secateur Me Baby' has turned the humble plant stake into something worth smiling about.
Christina Karras

This Week

Interiors

A Vintage Furniture Collector’s Humble Family Home, Filled With Iconic Pieces

IT engineer Trung Tu's Melbourne home hides an enviable collection of designer furniture and art from different eras!
Christina Karras

News

Visit Local Artist Kate Florence's Colourful New Exhibition

See (and shop!) Kate’s abstract paintings and sculptures created in collaboration with Neighbourhood Studio in Melbourne this week.
Christina Karras

News

Step Inside Some Of Tasmania’s Most Unique Homes At Open House Hobart

Your chance to visit Hobart’s best homes and buildings on November 12 – 13!
Sponsored

Architecture

An Inside Look At Domain Park: Melbourne’s Revolutionary 1960s Apartment Building

Once the tallest residential building in Melbourne, Robin Boyd's Domain Park (1962) paved the way for a new era of apartment living.

Homes

An Elegant Art Deco Apartment Rental With Water Views

Jill McCormick's fashionable home for one, in Sydney's dreamy Elizabeth Bay.

News

Typo's New Homewares Range Has Everything You Need For A 'Big Night In'

The local brand known for their playful stationary and homewares has released their latest range of quirky bean bags, cushions and decor!
Sponsored

Architecture

A Treehouse Companion For An Architecturally-Significant Noosa Home

An innovative 1983 Gabriel Poole house on the same site inspired this new home by Bark Architects embracing the bushy Noosa landscape.

Shopping

Sarah Ellison + Pantone Team Up To Create The 70s-Inspired Sofa Of Our Dreams

Meet Sarah Ellison's luxurious retro-inspired sofa, FLOAT, wrapped in its custom Pantone colour; a rich coffee brown called Piccolo!
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

The Haunting, Shadow-Inspired Paintings Of Melbourne Artist Ella Dunn

How the imaginative banter of two children on a set of swings inspired the artist's latest body of work.

Interiors

A Contemporary New Home Grounded In An Earthy, Natural Palette

Inspired by his client's extensive art collection, interior designer Brahman Perera creates a stunning, timeless home.

News

An Unmissable Pop-Up This Saturday Bringing Together Melbourne’s Best Creatives!

The exciting 005 Abode pop-up features stalls from makers like Lucy Tolan, Ella Reweti, Fisch and more in Alt-House’s Fitzroy warehous...
Christina Karras

Art

This Vibrant Exhibition Brings Together Traditional Sculpture + Contemporary Art For A Story On Legacy

Brunswick Street Gallery presents 'Aak Puul: Art From The Wik & Kugu Region'; a bold showcase of the strength of Wik Kugu culture. 

Architecture

The New Australian Housing Company Creating Customisable Small Homes

Dimensions X aims to be the ‘Tesla of housing’, creating energy-efficient, prefabricated homes that can be assembled in just six weeks.
2.25

Art

The NGA’s Cressida Campbell Exhibition Celebrates Her Glorious 40-Year Career

A studio visit with Cressida Campbell, ahead of her exciting survey exhibition at the National Gallery Of Australia.

Shopping

Meet The Business Creating Fully Customisable Furniture Right Here In Melbourne

We visited Zenn Design at their brand-new Melbourne showroom to learn about their bespoke, luxury furniture offerings!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Studio Visit

Beci Orpin’s Shared Studio Is Just As Colourful + Cheerful As You’d Expect!

Inside the charming studio of Beci Orpin, Ellie King and Hoddle, decked out with all the best things from local makers and creators.

Studio Visit

Byron-Based Artist Bianca Pintan's Vividly Colourful World Of Ceramics

The Brazilian-born artist now works and lives in Byron Bay, pushing the boundaries with her bold and bright ceramics.
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

The Melbourne Designer Who Found His Niche Making Sculptural + Sustainable Plant Stakes!

Melbourne startup 'Secateur Me Baby' has turned the humble plant stake into something worth smiling about.
Christina Karras

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