After a few years of working for a commercial gallery Melbourne’s Leah Jackson felt a pull to what had drawn her to the arts in the first place - ceramics. It was her major during her Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) degree at the ANU in Canberra. And she had immersed herself in that world before then too, studying up on The Journal of Australian Ceramics while at high school. Since returning to the wheel she has been exhibiting regularly. “I love the exhibition process,” Leah says, “as it always pushes my work into a new direction and challenges me to take a fresh perspective.” She is also stocked in retail spaces, and is about to participate in the Markit design market at Fed Square on November 24. Leah also runs the occasional workshop at Northcote Pottery. “It is a fun, day long event that encourages play and irreverence while providing some staple hand building and simple mold making skills,” she says. “They are fun days which yield a surprising amount of work.”

Which five words best describe you? Always hungry for more everything. (That “everything” initially read “cake”).

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied ceramics at university, but left it alone for a few years while I worked in the arts. Working at a public contemporary gallery was like undertaking a second degree - I learnt so much. Eventually the want to be making took over and I left my job to return to the studio - via some more travel, living in some different places, and generally just finding my way.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? My Grandfather gave me simple but effective career advice once: "You just figure out what you want to do, and you work hard at it". That statement really seemed to consolidate my dedication to my career path for some reason. Sage (simple) advice aside, the most important lesson I have learnt is time management - it is essential for ceramics when you are working towards a deadline! You have to allow for drying time, firing, glazing, re-firing - and hope throughout the entire process that the kiln gods will smile upon you.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Being featured in The Journal of Australian Ceramics was pretty exciting. I have been geeking out over those magazines since I was at high school, so that was a very big career achievement tick.

What’s been your best decision? Setting up my current studio at Northcote Pottery - working away from home has made such a difference to my practice, as has having multiple kilns on site.

Who inspires you? My friends. They are incredible. They open galleries, write articles, create beautiful clothes, buildings, jewellery, products, props, exhibitions... The list goes on. Dynamic, ambitious people with strong vision and direction who it is a privilege to spend time with, and I learn so much from.

What are you passionate about? Equal love. Hand moisturisers (ceramics is very hard on the hands). And people enjoying my work in their domestic space.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Gore Vidal, circa 1960s. Even though his intelligence would have been horribly intimidating. I could watch him making clever, witty quips on YouTube all day.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I have dreamt this so long it almost feels silly now, but I would love to live in America for a time - perhaps I will retire in Florida?

What are you reading? I am just starting on The picture of Dorian Gray - literally the first pages of the introduction.

images courtesy of leah jackson; photography heather lighton

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