I sit down with ceramic artist Ella Tindal talking stoneware, sustainability, and Suprematism.
Image: Bowls ready for market in Ella's studio.
RL: How long have you been practicing ceramics?
ET: I have been practicing ceramics for a little over three years now. I began art UNSW Art and Design, and realised quickly that it would be my major. I had many fails (as does everyone in ceramics), but have learnt so much over the last few years studying under some great ceramic artists such as Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran. Ceramics can be a rollercoaster of ups and downs but I loved so many ceramic artists and I think they are what made me persevere!
RL: For those unfamiliar with your art practice how would you describe your work and the concepts behind it?
ET: I have a few individual concepts within my practice that come together to create the work that I make. I make mostly functional items, exploring durability, practicality as well as preciousness and trying to find instinctual forms. I basically just want to create pieces that people love to use over and over again in their everyday lives. Uncomplicated and useful.
RL: Do you think functional ceramics are more important than purely aesthetic pieces? And why do you make function wares?
ET: I think functional ceramics and sculptural ceramics are apples and oranges! I’m not sure if I ever compare the two in my mind. Ironically though, I probably take more interest in sculptural artists. I think it is the primal nature of making something which will act as a tool for people to use and involve in their daily rituals of dining - whatever that may mean to them - that is really exciting to me.
Images: A full shelf of wares on Ella’s studio window sill; Ella Tindal, Bowl and Vase (texture series). Raw stoneware; Plates on the dish rack. Courtesy: the artist.
RL: What attracted you to clay and sculpture as a medium? Do you work in any other mediums?
ET: Hmm.. well I grew up on a farm, so I think working with my dad and having to learn to be practical and involve my entire body in the physicality of the work is what led me to finding ceramics appealing. I always thought I would love to work with my hands, and ceramics gives me that satisfying opportunity. I used to use other mediums like printing and drawing, however somewhere along the line ceramics took over!
RL: What are some concepts behind your work?
ET: I have a series of plates and bowls that are influenced by Kazimir Malevich and the Suprematist art movement in Russia. I really wanted to translate the line work and simple blocks of colour, key elements of the Suprematist movement, onto clay. I think I will always continue this series in some form because the development of the work was a process that I loved and I am really proud of my artistic development throughout that time. I experimented a lot with using tape to construct linear forms on the surface which I then painted over, creating positive and negative spaces with sharp edges. They are simple pieces but have a rich reference to art history and historical art movements.
Currently, my concepts revolve around sustainability. At the moment I am using recycled clay, made up of all different stoneware clay bodies. The unpredictability of the colours and textures from the many clays forces me to simplify my practice even further. The clay speaks for itself much of the time. I am really aware of how permanent the medium I use is once its fired, and I try to make each piece I make useable, even if it is a test.
RL: Are there any artists you admire that readers should know about.
ET: Yes there are so many! Lihnida Blazeska is a sculptural and functional artist whose concepts run across her entire practice and her work is so unified in that way. Soren Ferguson also creates such incredible forms; 2D, functional and sculptural that make my ceramic heart so excited (and jealous)! Yasmin Bawa is making works that venture into the furniture realm that are unapologetic and sublime at the same time. Of course James Lemon is incredible and also I will add one of my all time favourites, Gerry Wedd.
Ella Tindal, Vase. Stained stoneware, clear glaze.
Ella Tindal, Nerikomi Tea Mug. Stained stoneware, clear glaze.
RL: What can we expect from future works? Have you been working on anything new?
ET: I really want to increase the use of recycled clay in the future and experiment with other sustainable options that I can implement into my practice. I am actually trying my hand at some sculptural work as well right now, however it is my first try so I’m keeping it under wraps! My main project for 2020 however, is lamps – taking the functional to another room of the house other than the kitchen!
RL: Where can people find/buy your art?
Words: Rosy Leake