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These Unique Hand-Painted Ceramics Are Inspired by Bauhaus Design

Studio Visit

Having focused her creative energy solely on painting for the past two decades, Melbourne artist Belinda Wiltshire only started her journey into ceramics a few years ago.

Now, she’s moved into a new dedicated ceramics studio in Preston, where she creates her stunning one-of-a-kind pieces with careful craftsmanship.

Belinda’s striking work is influenced by the bold lines and geometric shapes of Bauhaus designer and artist Oskar Schlemmer, who created similar forms in the avant-garde costumes for his ballet back in 1922 – which are perfectly translated into her sculptural and striped vases!

16th January, 2023

Belinda Wiltshire’s striking ceramic creations in her Preston studio. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Painter and ceramicist Belinda Wiltshire. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

The experienced painter found her love for ceramics in 2015, and expanded her practice to focus on pottery in 2019. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘At 9sqm, some might call mine a tiny studio, but it’s bigger than my last space! I find a minimal setup lends itself to maintaining an orderly workspace, and it definitely contributes to the sense of calm I try to preserve while making,’ Belinda says. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘The most important and most used elements of my set up are my bespoke short-person workbench made by my partner, my old Venco wheel, and my even older Tetlow kiln.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

 

‘I’m 5ft1 [and my] workbench needs to be the right height for me to comfortably get my weight over it for wedging my clay, which is about hip height. Most heavy duty workbenches (as opposed to tables or desks) are made to a standard height and in the past I’ve had to use a little platform to stand on!’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Belinda starts her process with a series of silhouette design sketches that she constantly adds and refers to. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘Before I begin a new piece, I’ll usually check in on them to get myself moving. I never tie myself into making an exact form, but I will plan out the separate elements in my head before sitting down at the wheel.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘For instance, if I have a silhouette in mind, I know I’ll be needing a conical shape, a bowl shape, and a sphere, so I’ll throw multiples of these with slight variations in one session.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Bauhaus shapes and designers like Oskar Schlemmer and Marguerite Wildenhain. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Despite only venturing into ceramics a few years ago, her pieces showcase her beautiful craftsmanship. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Christina Karras
Monday 16th January 2023

An experienced painter, Belinda Wiltshire says she started her ‘somewhat meandering’ journey towards ceramics after attending her first wheel-throwing class in 2015.

‘Shortly after the class I etched out a modest wheel setup within my painting studio, and remained content for a while just making for fun and practice’, Belinda says. A few years later, though, she decided to take her hobby more seriously, and expanded to a dedicated workspace.

Initially, it was a bit of a power struggle to balance her two creative practices. Belinda admits she used to try and keep painting and ceramics separate – even sometimes feeling guilty for giving one more attention than the other!  ‘I don’t know where it happened along the line in the mainstream art industry, but there was always this unidentifiable pressure to make one type of work in one medium,’ she says. ‘It took me years to feel comfortable to let one practice sit on the sidelines while I focused on the other, but I’m well over that now.’

Now, the versatile creative floats freely between painting from her at-home studio, and working on her ceramic art at her new, 9sqm studio space in Preston.

Belinda’s heroes range from prolific artists like Louise Bourgeois (who maintained confidence to work in whichever medium or discipline she liked) and Bauhaus-trained ceramicist Marguerite Wildenhain. But her current pottery work also has another surprising source of inspiration: the geometric, ballet costumes of Oskar Schlemmer, a painter, sculptor, choreographer, and designer known for his ballet productions with the Bauhaus School.

‘His use of basic shapes and bold lines in a kind of mischievous and unexpected way is kindred with how I’d like my work to manifest,’ Belinda says.

Belinda says she’s drawn on Oskar Schlemmer’s whimsical, layered forms to create her own visual language in her sculptural vessels and objects. Just like his avant-garde costumes, Belinda’s sculptural works have an impressive presence, characterised by bold silhouettes and decorative, black stripes painted onto natural-coloured clay.

‘My works are comprised of a selection of what you might call building blocks. Each final piece is a compilation of smaller basic forms which are then stacked and joined,’ Belinda explains. The overall process happens organically, without any rigid planning as a way to give the handcrafted results an extra sense of character. It also means each piece is a one-off.

‘Both in my painting and ceramic art once I focus in on a concept or technique, I try to immerse myself and fully explore it,’ Belinda muses. ‘I will inevitably move on, but there will always be traces of each movement in my visual language, one development will inform the next.’

Shop Belinda’s work online at Makers Mrkt and see more on her website.

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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