Ceramicist adapting work for clay-loving community

By David Rak

There have been quite a few changes for Tallarook ceramicist Sandra Bowkett since the pandemic hit.

Usually she would be supplying a steady stream of kiln-fired clay to places such as Shepparton Art Museum and Crafts Victoria or running workshops for the community.

But since many of her normal haunts closed their doors to the public, she has been adapting her work for Shepparton’s clay-loving community.

‘‘If you have a studio at home, it’s freed up time to be making more, with less distractions,’’ Ms Bowkett said.

‘‘It’s been quite a productive time, but the background conversation is when and will anyone be interested in buying your work down the track?

‘‘I’ve had to postpone workshops here, including work with traditional Indian potting communities.’’

Ms Bowkett said while many artists were struggling to find buyers during the COVID-19 crisis, she had noticed how the ceramic community had banded together online to help each other out.

She said a Melbourne artist had created a support system on Instagram where ceramicists posted pictures of their work with the hashtag #clayforcommunity.

For every five pieces sold, artists commit to spending 20 per cent on someone else’s work, which increases exposure via a growing international network.

But for Ms Bowkett, creating a page to showcase and sell her work prompted by the pandemic has not come naturally.

‘‘I haven’t made a website before and it’s something I’ve resisted doing due to the retail outlets I supply and I don’t like photographing everything and putting it up,’’ she said.

‘‘I’ve also been getting some interest on Instagram.

‘‘In the past, I’ve rarely sold things there, but I’m finding there’s more people on Instagram trawling through feeds. I guess people have time to do online shopping, so maybe there’s still demand there.’’