Friday, 7 April 2017


Hello lovely readers, today I would like to introduce you to one of my favourite ceramicists and all-round lovely lady, Rachel Saunders from the West Coast of Canada, (shout out to my dad's homeland!) 
I was lucky enough to catch up with Rachel over email a while back to ask her about everything from her own practice to her personal inspirations...

Who are you, where are you from and what do you do for a living? 

My name is Rachel, and I’m from a little island off the West Coast of Canada. For a living I basically just make a really big mess everyday, and then sometimes cool things come from that mess. I’m a ceramicist, mostly!

Why did you choose to pursue ceramics? Was it something you received formal training in or did you happen to come across it elsewhere? 

My pursuit of ceramics came in direct response to finding out what I didn’t want to do with my life. When I was 21, I manifested myself into what I thought was my dream situation, which turned out to be more dreary than dreamy. I was working at the headquarters of a large clothing company in Los Angeles, and had to succumb to the everyday rat race that was working for a big corporation in America. It put my psyche through the ringer, and I was fortunate enough to have enough clarity and confidence to walk away and find something more fulfilling. I retreated to my little island home, and started redesigning my life with newfound and invaluable perspective. I found myself picking up where I left off at a little pottery studio I had spent some time in before I left, and I just never really put it down. I’ve had 2 real lessons, and have stubbornly taught myself the rest through doing, observing, asking, listening, and getting things wrong over and over again.

Your work seems to have quite an organic, bodily quality to it. Was this something you purposely set out to do, or did it develop in other ways?

To be completely honest, not much of what I do it overtly intentional or deliberately calculated. Clay for me is a great vessel (pun intended) in which I can get across what I am thinking and feeling on a more subconscious level. Sometimes I’ll just step back and look at what I’ve made at the end of the day and my work will be a total mood map of what kind of state I’m in or what I’m going through. It does the translating for me in a direct line of communication from my subconscious. That sounds pretty hippy-dippy but
it’s true, man.

I absolutely adore the forms you create! In particular, the Curve Vase and the Mondo Mug. What inspires these forms? 

Aw, thank you! Those pieces were designed to be purely functional, but also have a slightly obtrusive element to them. My work always seems to find a way to be cheeky in form or function, not sure where that comes from...

Do you meticulously plan a piece before starting work on it, or do you prefer to get straight into making, and develop the idea as you go? 

I usually just dive into something without planning a thing out of hasty excitement. Troubleshooting functionality as I go is necessary, but I love when I just get a pure idea in my mind and without thinking it through or going about it critically, I just make it. I guess I do a lot of things in my life the way, for better or for worse. But those are always the funnest forms that bring me the most joy.

Do you look up to any other artists? If so, who and why? Do you think the work by these artists have inspired the sort of pieces you make? 

Having role models and mentors is absolutely crucial to developing whatever you do, and I have so many people who I look up to. Lots of them come and go for me depending on what I need in leading figures in my life. A multimedia artist who has given me a lot for some time now is Patti Smith, which I was recently reminded of after finishing her latest book, M Train. To me she completely embodies what it means to be a true artist, which is not something I consider myself by any means, but is so incredibly to see in a human, someone with so much passion and dedication to creating and receiving all the universe has to offer. I just look up to people who’s essence is present in everything they make. I also like people who are resourceful. Recently I’ve been very inspired by Alice Coltrane, and New York baker/artist Lexie Smith.
Alice Coltrane had mystical superpowers and sets the soundtrack to a lot of my studio days, and Lexie Smith’s ingenuity with food and mastery of multimedia has made me become deeply inspired by her world.

What does art mean to you? Why do you personally make art? 

Art to how physical beings transcend themselves into another form. It’s another language that is spoken. Sometimes the language is undecipherable or broken and ugly, and sometimes it is really beautiful. I think all forms of art are valuable. For a while I didn’t consider myself to be making artout of ceramics, just functional sometimes weird everyday objects. But as I continue down this path I must accept that it probably is also art. I make it because it engages me on a deeper level. And it connects me with people all over the world, and it’s exciting and unpredictable and teaches me endless lessons on the daily.

What things do you like/dislike about the art world? 

I like that it’s endless. And that there are a billion beautiful things waiting to be discovered. I dislike how often the ego plays a part in it.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? (can apply to general life, or specifically art). 

Hmm, I might still be waiting for that advice, so if you have some send it over! My advice to myself on the daily is to be more in my heart and less in my head, it’s the answer to everything.

Have you planned any artists goals for 2017? 

Oh yes, so many, I’m all about goals. It mostly comes down to being more mindful and taking things a bit slower. I have a real tendency to get caught up in my own whirlwind sometimes. I just want to enjoy every step of this crazy journey. And also be less messy.

Where can people find you/your work online? and @rachelsaundersceramics

I would like to say a huge thank you to Rachel for taking the time to chat with me! You should all definitely check out her work, it's so wonderful!


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