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Ceramics has had a recent boom in the art context and it has never been more popular! Why? Because in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, people desire to make something with their hands - and ceramics offers a counterbalance to these sped-up times with its down-to-earth and tactile nature. Which is why we thought we’d highlight one of Melbourne’s emerging creative spaces, who are taking the clay world by storm.


Clay Talk is a maker’s space located in beautiful Montsalvat, where both beginners and professionals alike come together to celebrate the art of ceramics. Clay Talk provides a place for the curious and passionate to learn all sides there is to this sculptural medium, and to fully immerse themselves in an artistic experience through skills-based workshops.


In this feature, we chat with Susannah, one of the creative and hardworking people behind Clay Talk, to find out more about what they do, why they do it, and why their ceramic art classes should be the next thing you turn up to.



How did ceramics become of interest to everyone at Clay Talk?


The interest in ceramics was sparked in different ways for each of us.


For some, it began early – when we were at school playing with clay. It’s something we’ve kept coming back to over the years before pursuing more seriously. For others, it started with knowledge before it turned into practical, with learning about the history of clay in different cultures and how their traditions used clay to make objects.


What we all do have in common is our connection to clay as a material, how it responds to our hands and changes through the making and firing processes; plus an interest in the history of clay and ceramic objects.





How did you master this classic art form?


The learning never stops. Our ceramics skills are constantly developing. It may have started with art classes at school or short courses as adults after work or on weekends. But since our interest in ceramics fully ignited, we’ve all progressed to more formal qualifications through TAFE and/or university.


We’ve continuing to build our knowledge through experimenting in our own studios, participating in specialist courses or masterclasses, as well as pursuing formal studies, residencies and exhibitions. Not to mention learning through conversations with others in the ceramics community.



What led you down the path of teaching this art form?


Being able to share our knowledge, skills and experience is a fantastic opportunity. We can’t help getting excited about clay, working in ceramics and discovering something new about the medium. So, it’s great to encourage others to tap into their creativity and help them build their own skills.



What is unique about your classes at Clay Talk?


Clay Talk is located in the grounds of Montsalvat, so we’re surrounded by amazing architecture and gardens with a rich creative and artistic history that’s still thriving today.


We keep our classes small which means students can learn at their own pace and discover their individual style. Also, they can progressively develop their wheel throwing and handbuilding skills. They’ll learn from engaging and experienced teachers in our spacious and beautifully designed ceramics studio. We also have a range of kilns and want to create the opportunity for students to experience and learn about different firings.






We’ve just started offering courses on a regular basis. Before this we’ve had established artists running specialised ceramics workshops and masterclasses at the centre.


At the moment, our vessel forming classes are the most popular and students can choose from either our Monday evening or Saturday afternoon course. They get to explore both throwing on the pottery wheel and creating vessels using a range of hand building techniques.


What are your goals as a teacher of this craft?


At Clay Talk, we aim to foster learning and inspire creativity by bringing students and practicing ceramic artists together through education and skills-based programs.


We aim to teach the foundation skills on how to make ceramic pieces as well as help each student to build up their knowledge across all aspects of ceramics. We’re committed to nurturing the development of our students and encouraging them to pursue their ceramics further if they want to.


We also want our students to have a fun and rewarding learning experience at Clay Talk.





What, in your opinion, makes an excellent piece of ceramic art?


Where do we start – that could be a PhD thesis! Broadly, an excellent piece of ceramic art is something that creates an emotional response – whether it’s a beautiful cup that’s a joy to hold and drink from or a large ceramic installation that makes people think about a topic or issue.



What advice would you give to someone who is just beginning and wants to learn ceramics?


Come to Clay Talk! Short courses are a great way to see if you like the medium. If you do, we’d recommend building up your skills and to think about what you want to focus on going forward. That way, you can then look for courses, teachers or mentors that can help with you pursue that path in ceramics.



Do you have any recent or future projects at Clay Talk that you would like to tell us about?


We’ve just started running our courses so it’s a work in progress! We’re focussed on creating a vibrant and engaging learning environment where people can develop in ceramics – whether they’re starting out, want to brush up on their skills or expand their knowledge further.


In the future, we also plan to have workshops for practicing artists who want more specialised courses and professional development. We hope to have ceramics studio spaces available for rent as well as have visiting artists (national or international) involved in masterclasses, talks, residencies and/or projects. Stay tuned!

Learn more about the rich tradition of ceramics. Join a class today!
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Clay Talk @ Montsalvat

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