A Big Little Life

Here we are in the middle of the year already!

The world is full of chaos and despair as it has been for time immemorial. I feel so insignificant and helpless to make a difference when I start considering all the places that are in need of assistance. After making a few feeble gestures of compassion, meditations, donations and protests I return to my little corner of the world which is unceded Ngurra (country) of the Dharug and Gundungurra peoples and try to live with appreciation as gently and as considerately as I can.

We have had a few medical shake ups over the last couple of years so I feel very precious about how I spend my time these days. My number one focus is time with family and friends and my second priority is to be creative, sustainable and constructive.

The year started with plans to renovate our house.

We are trying to make our living space simple and comfortable for our old age as we, and our friends, are feeling old age creeping closer. So first on our list was to make our bathroom age friendly. Work started in late February and here we are in June and we are still waiting for the tiling/bathroom to be completed, never knowing each morning who will be turning up to do what.

As a ceramic artist I couldn’t let the opportunity to make some feature tiles for our new bathroom and plant pots go past. Thank you to my student Debbie Dunn for lending me her Venco table top slab roller while she was in Europe. It was great to see how it worked and all the tiles came out beautifully with hardly any warping. There are 14 in total and each one different but similar and I cant wait to see them in place.


In March we had a 95th birthday for my mother in law. She went into an age care facility last year and it has been wonderful for her and a huge relief for us.


In April, (as you may have seen in my previous post) Michael and I went to Clay Gulgong. It is the first time he has come to a pottery event with me. This year was special for me as I had been selected to be in the “Pottery Throw Down Under” hosted by Keith Brymer-Jones over the full week of the convention. As well as this honour I had also been granted an exhibition after my MA graduation in 2019 and this year it was finally time for it to be held. So Michael had lots of reasons to come along.We had a hoot and I am so grateful to Mansfield Ceramics for these experiences I will hold these memories close to me.


On the last day I bought a big Venco slab roller that had been a demonstration tool during the week. Wooo Hoooo!

Screenshot 2024-06-17 at 10.01.32 AM

At the start of May, having returned from Gulgong, it was time for me to get ready to make a trip out to visit my sister in Wilcannia which is almost 900km west from my place. She is in urgent need of a hip operation but beds and nursing are not easy to come by in the out back and her operation has been postponed far too many times. I hoped I would be driving her to Broken Hill for her operation (about 200km west from her place) and waiting to bring her back and settled in before returning home myself. Unfortunately her operation was postponed yet again and all I could do was cook and freeze meals for her and do some jobs around the house before coming home to look after other aspects of our family life. I did manage to collect some treasure while travelling on the long straight roads that seem to go forever through the glorious outback landscape. I will test some of the beautiful red soil in some glazes and on some clay surfaces and I will turn some of the Leopard Wood branches and Mulga wood into ash to see what sort of glaze I can find in that too.


Below is the slow process of sieving the earth. First the sticks and rocks. Then the seeds and bigger grit leaving a fine red earth.


Home just in time to go to my daughters gig.


I was not home long before it was time to pack again to go on my annual “retreat” workshop at Sandy Lockwood’s, Balmoral Studio in the Southern Highlands, with my friends Adrianna Christianson and Lisa Maddern. Sadly Lisa wasn't able to make it this time, we missed her, but there will be more adventures for us to enjoy in the future. Sandy’s workshops are a sort after experience and we never quite know if we will manage to get a place but we got in early and were lucky and lapped up our time there. These workshops are food for the soul for me. I have been doing Sandy’s workshops every year since 2014 so she has had a huge impact on my work.


We are such good friends and time together is very special.

We talk about clay and food and life.

Why and what we are making and we laugh until our sides ache.

.....and we drink a lot of TEA!


I sold my 4 x Venco wheels at the start of the year and replaced them with “Shimpo Wispers”. My husband, Michael, encouraged this as he has started doing a bit of throwing too but found the Venco peddle was difficult for his bad knee. This change will make the studio a quiet space when all the wheels are going (these wheels are truely silent). Although I am not teaching, I do have friends and family that come and make with me on occasions and who knows what I will be doing down the track. Now that I have stopped galavanting around the country side I have had a to chance regroup and sort out the studio with its new equipment. Because the studio is a small space I need to make it versatile. All my shelves are on wheels and our friend Tristan has made wheels for my new slab roller too. So with this in mind I have been making the wheel room capable of different formations depending on who is in the space and how it is being used. Now I can make or remove the bench areas very simply.


It is well into the winter weather now and it is time to get the wood kiln cooking. So I had better hop to it and get some glazes mixed up, make more pots to fill the kiln and move lots of wood from the wood stack to the kiln site……Always so much to do and think about in this big-little corner of my world.

Lilli Pilli Studio News

17 Jun 2024
A Big Little Life
23 Apr 2024
Clay Gulgong 2024
9 Jul 2023
Becoming good friends with my kiln, "Sandy-Lucinda"
11 Aug 2022
Retirement From Teaching At Lilli Pilli Studio
6 Feb 2022
A wet start to the year
1 Jan 2022
2022......ok lets see if we can find a happy place in this challenging world!
11 Oct 2021
A Woman And Her Kiln
24 Aug 2021
Lockdown Life - A Potters Project
14 Jul 2021
Grounded- My Wilcannia Life - Karin Donaldson
18 Feb 2021
2021- A slow start but a good one

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