Claire Lehmann is a graphic artist and ceramicist who studied art history and multimedia and is now exploring the industrial design of ceramics. She is influenced by architecture, sci-fi and 1970s interior design. Her work reflects her interests in shape, texture, process and weight.
We are looking forward to the reveal of Claire’s most recent work in a joint exhibition with Georgie Moyes entitled 573° this month at Guild of Objects from November 17–19.
Please come help us celebrate the launch of Claire and Georgie’s exhibition at a special preview on Thursday November 17 from 5–8pm.
Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your craft?
I’m 38, I live in Northcote and I alternate between ceramics and freelance work as a graphic artist/retoucher. I’m in my last month of studying a Diploma of Ceramics at Holmesglen Tafe. I previously studied a Bachelor of Art History and then Multimedia. I’ve always made art, but cut back when I started working in design. So after 13 years in front of a computer I’m finally circling back around – older, slightly wiser and definitely better at Photoshop. I have a studio in North Melbourne and have been making ceramics for six years. My focus was initially on tableware, but now my focus is shifting towards lighting and hopefully more sculptural, non-functional ceramics.
When and how did you first get interested in ceramics?
One of my sisters asked me to do a short course with her at Carlton Arts Centre. I turned up and within six months I’d moved to part-time work so I could spend the rest of my time making ceramics. It was a convergence of my love of homewares, using my hands and a challenge.
Can you describe the early days of setting up your business?
Initially, it was all about repetition and learning from lots and lots of mistakes. I’d take orders and figure things out as I went. I’d stick to shapes and colours I knew I could manage and I was definitely being risk-averse. Studying ceramics has been great because I’ve tried things I wouldn’t have attempted otherwise and that’s definitely opened up my practice and my interests. I named my business Sunday Ceramics after Sunday Reed who is a personal hero (and was a mega babe). I think my interest in opacity, weight, structure and material tolerance ties in with my love of design. In another life, I would have studied industrial design but I think I’m glad I didn’t. I kind of enjoy approaching these areas with no knowledge and no set ideas. Things just happen organically. And when a shape doesn’t work, I problem solve – do I change the design or do I change the process? The problem solving keeps it interesting.
What does a typical day look like for you?
On pottery days I wake up, have a nice breakfast, do life admin and get to the studio around 10:30am. I like to have different projects going at the same time and I move between them. Usually there are chats and coffees with other studio people, some Radio National and history podcasts, and then suddenly it gets dark and it’s pens down, the day is over. I guess I go into the zone for 5–6 hours and when I come back hopefully some nice ceramics have been made.
Where/what do you draw inspiration from?
I’m interested in shape and texture and I draw inspiration from architecture, art and design. I also love collecting interior design books from the 1970s and 80s.
If you could do anything tomorrow what would you do?
I’d go to the beach and read a book and try to forget about my to-do list.
If you could teach your kids one thing, what would it be?
I try to teach my nieces and nephews to be kind and to have fun.
What are you reading at the moment?
Longform. Always. When I’m on holiday I read books, but in the meantime it’s all about longform journalism.
If we rummaged through your grocery bag, what would we find?
The usual stuff – vegetables, cheese, but also maybe a screwdriver or some random pottery tools.
Can you tell us the first thing that pops into your mind when we mention the word …
Breakfast: slow scramble
Weekends: studio time
People: smiles with friends
Smell: my lover’s hair
Place: my garden
What’s one thing you can’t live without at the moment?
The supportive and creative people around me.
What are your words of wisdom?
Life wisdom: Be kind. Try to listen. Trust that it’s all going in the right direction. Ceramic-specific wisdom: Even if things fail, put them in the bin, learn and move on. Aka let it go.