We first saw Bec Smith's work at her RMIT graduate show and loved the texture and playfulness of her work. Drawing inspiration from the plant conservatory at Fitzroy Gardens, Bec’s work references the fleeting nature of flowers in bloom, as well as sweet snacks, suggested by her candy-coloured palette and the textures and surfaces of her ceramic forms.
Peach Bloom, Bec’s first solo show, launches at Guild of Objects on 8 June, and will combine edible and olfactory elements with ceramic forms to produce a sensory and romantic space.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your practice?
I’m Bec Smith. I am a ceramics and installation artist from Melbourne. I mostly work with porcelain and use hand pinching and coiling techniques to create my forms. My practice is closely linked with my love for gardens.
I am currently making work for exhibition, selling my ceramics and working on commission. I live in Footscray and have a studio in North Melbourne, where I make and fire my work.
When and how did you first get started in ceramics?
My interest in ceramics started during my first couple of years studying Fine Art at RMIT. I was attracted by porcelain’s texture, malleability and translucency. Once I started working with clay I became captivated with the material.
What has the journey been like since those early days?
My work is constantly evolving as I learn more about the ceramic process. I started out making a series of small sculptures and vases, and experimenting as much as I could. I was fascinated by the glazing process and spent the first years of my study developing glaze recipes, getting my head around the technicalities. As my understanding of ceramics grew, I began making larger and more delicate objects pushing the limits of my material. I have also learned to love the unpredictable nature of ceramics.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I’m currently drawing a lot of inspiration from the plant conservatory at Fitzroy Gardens. I’d like my work to reflect the romance of the natural world and the fleeting cycles of flowers in bloom. More broadly, my work is about my love of desserts, fragrances and the nostalgia attached to taste and smell.
What does a typical day look like for you?
If I’m not working as a barista, a typical day for me starts at 8am. I’ll take my time to wake up before having a coffee and breakfast and write a list to organize my day. I’ll usually start by doing some paintings and drawings, making notes about my ideas. Some days I prefer to start working with clay and I’m often working on a few different sculptures at a time. I snack throughout the day, gaining inspiration from the shapes of cakes, ice creams and scones. When I’m not feeling creative, I try to get out of my workspace and visit gardens. I sometimes take a notebook with me to do drawings or make notes.
What are you...
...reading? The outlander series
...listening to? Donna Summer
...watching? Transparent and Chefs Table
Can you tell us the first thing that pops into your mind when we mention the word …
People: My sister
Sound: Trees Rustling
What’s one thing you can’t live without at the moment?
Antihistamines (I have been working a lot with flowers)
Any advice or words of wisdom for other makers out there?
Just remember that your work never has to be final, and it will change as you learn more about it. If you’re not enjoying what you’re making, change it and keep experimenting. Making things that you enjoy is important. It allows other people to see a voice in your work.
We are really excited about your upcoming exhibition at Guild, and your workshops later in the year. Can you tell us a bit about these?
I’m really excited to present work that stems from my sense of place. For me, the work’s is really optimistic and romantic. It’s about finding and preserving the beauty that I find in small moments, and I’m looking forward to bringing these moments to life, and sharing them. The workshops will be about developing techniques with porcelain, and sharing the techniques I have learnt with others.
Any other projects or news you want to share?
I am happy to be working on a collaboration with Seth Searle and am also going to be a part of a group exhibition at Neon Parlour later in the year.
Photographs by Bec Smith and Screaming Pixel.
Follow Bec on Instagram.