February 06, 2015
CERAMICIST LINDSEY WHERRETT
“I started out as an architect but became frustrated with the desk job and the disconnect that seemed to exist between the design process and the making process,” says Lindsey Wherrett, a ceramicist based in Tasmania. “Ceramics is a medium that requires me to be literally hands on with my material and my product from inception to completion.” Since making the change in career, Lindsey has found a niche supplying quality restaurants in Hobart, such as Smolt and Ethos Eat. Also, at the end of last year, she set up a pop-up shop with furniture maker Stuart Williams called Made By Us, showcasing leading design makers. It will be holding a mini pop-up on February 15 at MONA's market MoMa.
Which five words best describe you? Optimistic, pragmatic, energetic, forthright, Scottish Australian.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I learned how to approach design in a previous incarnation as an architect. My husband and I spent a lot of time overseas, including Europe and Scotland where I grew up and almost 3 years in Japan, which certainly fuelled my passion for ceramics. A couple of years after we settled in Hobart we had a daughter so I was taking a break from architecture and had an opportunity to study ceramics under Ben Richardson, who has been my teacher and mentor for the past five years. His skill and experience is a rare find and his way of working really clicked with me so his support has been instrumental in getting me up and running.
There seems to be a growing interest from restaurants to use handmade ceramics and this is the area that I am really passionate about as it is such a great forum to spread the love of pottery from. People get so much more excited about the work when they have been able to use it and experience the richness of a handmade piece. I’d love to diversify a bit into lighting, and other architectural hardware and homewares and I'm interested in doing some collaborative work with designers in other mediums.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To have confidence in my own design instincts and approach each individual project and client with the respect and detail it deserves the same way I would if I were designing a house. Also, to be honest about the scope of work that I can handle as an individual maker and the timeframes involved, biting off more than you can chew can bite you back in the long run.
What’s your proudest career achievement? I recently had a meeting with Tetsuya Wakuda, to talk about producing work for his flagship restaurant Tetsuya’s in Sydney. To gain recognition from a chef of his calibre who has a real knowledge and understanding of my craft is pretty mind blowing.
What’s been your best decision? To spend my time doing the thing that brings me more joy rather than the thing that brings me more money.
Who inspires you? This is pretty corny but my husband and daughter are my biggest inspiration. Not aesthetically, obviously, but they inspire me to keep doing what I love. My husband, Jonathan Wherrett, is a photographer and a self-made business man who threw himself into doing what he really loved despite the risks. Now we both spend our days loving what we do, it’s not a job anymore it’s a bigger part of us. I want my daughter to have the same kind of passion in her life and to be able to see all the possibilities. We have to model that lifestyle and that mindset for her.
What are you passionate about? I feel passionate about cultivating a culture of respect and understanding for the work of truly skilled makers and artisans. Education in the crafts is badly neglected and undervalued and I think that is really sad considering the positive impact these arts can have on local economies and the enrichment they offer to individuals.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Wow, that’s a tough one. How about Kate Bezar, who is the amazing lady who started Dumbo Feather or Berry Liberman, who is the editor and publisher. I think they would be fascinating, strong women to meet who could tell me lots about lots of other fascinating people.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To be a very happy, very healthy, very old person.
What are you reading? The book of strange new things by Michel Faber. Christmas book from my husband, so far so good.
images courtesy of lindsey wherrett; photography jonathan wherrett