We chat with ceramicist Tallulah Eaves about the design process behind her work and how place has helped develop creative identity.
What do you feel is significant about designing work? What is it about this process that you are drawn to?
My work is a combination of two different design disciplines, pottery and textile design. My pattern design work is inspired by fabric and wallpaper traditions, particularly those of the late 19th century. Transferring these designs to the curved surface of ceramic vessels allows them to occupy physical space, freeing them from two-dimensional flatness and bringing them to life.
I love the tactility of pottery, using my hands to shape tangible clay forms. Repetition and iteration are processes I find productive and rewarding, and these are intrinsic facets of working with the potter’s wheel. I enjoy the process of discovery which this repetitious practice affords, allowing me to explore my own particular sense of shape and form.
Something I’ve always found compelling is the element of functionality embedded at the roots of design disciplines. Whether implicitly or overtly, all works of design are informed by their origins in traditions of creating functional objects. I am fascinated by the way design objects become embedded into our lives and become important parts of our environments. Design work has a particular capacity to form relationships. I believe we interact with works of design in a different way to works of fine art, informed by their functional qualities. We develop a familiarity and an intimacy with these objects. They exist not as static artefacts but as objects which come alive through use. From a favourite cup you drink from each day to a delicate tea set used only on special occasions, I love the way these objects become part of our lives.
What do you feel is significant about being a Tasmanian designer / artist? How do you feel being based in Tasmania impacts in your creative direction?
I feel very lucky to have been born and raised in Tasmania. I believe this place has played a large part in shaping the development of my identity and my creative practice. Living in Tasmania we are so privileged to live in such close proximity to wilderness. I spent my early years on the remote west coast, surrounded by the dense rainforest and rugged coastline. These formative years immersed in wild nature have imbued in me a fascination with the more-than-human world of flora, fauna and terrain.
What are some themes that recur for you? What is it that makes your work distinct?
The imagery in my work tends to be inspired by plants and organic forms, both in abstract and figurative designs. I’m interested in the relationships between humans and the world around us, the way we shape the natural world and how in turn we are shaped by it.
In my practice I often return to my childhood, drawing upon the richness and heightened reality of my memories. I am similarly interested in dreams and dreamlike states. The surreal and ethereal quality of these states of mind are something I would like to explore further in future work.
I’m more interested in the way imagery can make you feel than in rendering things accurately or realistically. In my work I want to evoke a sense of whimsy, even uncertainty through my stylised designs, simultaneously familiar and yet fanciful.
What is your favourite piece
My favourite piece I’ve made is probably a lidded ginger jar decorated with strawberry plants. It’s the central work from ‘Over the Garden Wall’, a body of work exploring and documenting my childhood family garden. I’m interested in the ways memories, dreams and imagination can transfigure the ordinary and the familiar. In this body of work I documented the plants from my garden, not as they are but as they were in the whimsied eye of childhood. This piece invokes a trove of ripened berries in the summertime, the simple delight of nature’s bounty. The vessel is not only a physical embodiment of these memories but an emotional repository in which they are preserved.
Outside of my work with botanical imagery I also enjoy exploring abstract patterns. These take the form of gestural, organic marks resembling water droplets or seeds. One of my favourite of these designs is a pattern called ‘Crown Shyness’, seen here in dark green. This design is inspired by a phenomenon observed in trees in which the canopies grow into and around each other but do not touch, leaving thin strips of sky visible between them.
View Tallulah's work in-store.