Friday, December 21, 2012

Q&A With Furniture Designer/Maker Lex Stobie

Lex has an exhibition currently showing in GalleryTwo at JamFactory, and was kind enough to answer a few questions and invite us to his Thebarton Studio. 

Tell us about your background, and what brought you to furniture design?
Before I left New Zealand I had been studying Mechanical Engineering with aspirations of transferring into Aeronautical Engineering. I was travelling around Northern Europe in my early twenties enjoying the aesthetics of a new way of living. My travels took me to The Netherlands and Scandinavia where I fell into the realm of Furniture Design.

Have you always been a maker/builder of things?
So long as I can remember. I was forever building things with my Lego or Cuisenaire Rods. I spent plenty of time in the shed at home trying new things while no one was looking.

Can you tell us about your studio?  Where is it? Do you work alone or with a team?
My studio is situated in George Street Studios, Thebarton. We are a group of six independent makers encompassing all things metal and wood. We make furniture, sculpture, surfboards, components and anything you can imagine. We work in a shared space with the intellectual property and technical skills that aid one another with our individual endeavors. It’s one of a kind and has been in existence for 13 years now.

Flera Ansikten at JamFactory GalleryTwo
 Tell us about Flera Ansikten.
Flera Ansikten is a collection of production, commission and one off pieces that I have been making over the last few years. It represents the diversity of style and work as well as the level of detail involved with these pieces.
Where does the name come from?
Flera Ansikten is Swedish for Multiple Faces. My wife is Swedish and our daily life is a mix of Swedish and Australian activities. I enjoy the diversity of lifestyle and the influences this translates into my work. The references to everyday luxuries are reflected in the pieces that I make.
The sign says it all- Outside Lex's Thebarton studio

Is there a magazine or website you regularly access for inspiration and ideas? (Feel free to list a few)
You know what, I’d love to say that there is one particular website or magazine that I draw upon for ideas and inspiration, but the truth is that if I did that I don’t think I’d get much done. They can be a bit of a distraction at times. I am a bit partial to Collect Magazine as I have been quite involved with the creators of tis fine publication. 

Do you do a lot of commission work? And what would a typical commission be?
Bucket loads! It could be anything from a dining table to a café fit out, an installation to a church. I do all types of work bar white boxes.

What is a typical day like for Lex Stobie?
How much time have you got? It’s pretty full on. I start early in the morning with a couple of coffees to get the brain firing then off to George Street. I might have to cut up some material, glue something to something else, cut another piece. I’ll answer some emails, write a few more, and shoot off on my bike to a meeting somewhere. Then back to the studio to do it all over again where I might have to order something from interstate or overseas to get ready for the days to come. After that I race home to put in time with my family before ‘bedtime’ and then tidy up the onslaught of children and their antics before collapsing into bed. I do this again and again. I love what I do and the people I meet. This year has been extreme as I’ve been working three days a week at the JamFactory in the furniture studio mentoring the Associates and running the program while continuing to run my own practice.

 Tell us about your role at JamFactory.
I’m a gun for hire! During 2012 I have been the program Manager in the Furniture Studio. I mentor the Associates as they traverse their futures as designers and makers. I assist in the running of the program and enterprise with all other departments and avenues that is the JamFactory. I have thoroughly enjoyed my role at the Jam and I hope to remain connected to the Jam as well as the high caliber of practitioners that graduate from the Associate Program.
You can follow Lex and his work online via his website and facebook:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Serena Wong on her Internship Placement at JamFactory

I've just finished a 20 day placement at JamFactory that started mid august.
I’m at Adelaide Uni doing double masters in Art History and Curatorial and Museum Studies. As part of my Masters Curatorial and museum studies we are asked to complete a 20-day placement.

My supervisor told me JamFactory had a placement position and I got really excited. Having  recently rewritten my cv for another internship application for MOMA in New York I was able to reflect on my experiences here at JamFactory I realized how much I’ve been able to accomplish whilst here.

This included writing for the annual publication Marmalade which will be launched in February 2013. The bios I wrote for the feature article Generate will be part of the exhibition display – (Generate is The Annual exhibition of final year Associates) and I think that’s really exciting. 

I was able to work closely with the artists, which is so valuable in terms of experience. I participated in the meetings with second year Associates and JamFactory’s curator Margaret Hancock Davis in which we selected works for the photo shoot and discussed what would be part of the exhibition.  This gave me a good idea on how you would approach working with artists on work selection and how to guide artists through to the exhibition end display.  It was really exciting to be able to sit in on these meetings,  getting to know artists and providing me confidence for when I needed to discuss with them information for the generate feature article .

Another highlight was going to the photo shoot. That was a lot of fun. Sophie Guiney, Marketing Manager, and I worked on this together. We unpacked all the work, checked all the artist’s instructions regarding how they wanted it laid out. We had a good dialogue with Tom Roschi utilising his photographic skills, while we had some creative input about what angles and height to shoot at. It was a really nice compliment of skills and it gave me a good idea about the kind of input you have as a creative, but without necessarily the technical skills.

A typical day here has included everything from covering for people when they duck out, staffing the phones, signing for parcels. I’m a little bit sad to leave, but I’ve had a really great time, and the best thing about Jam is that I feel like part of the Jam Family and everyone has treated me like part of the family, which is really great.

Next for me is hopefully an internship at MOMA in New York.

We wish Serena all the best in her next endeavor!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Q&A with Artist In Residence Pamela Rawnsley


      Tell us about yourself – how did you become a jeweller?
·         After 4 years at Art College in the U.K., where I worked in many different materials, I eventually set up my own studio as a jeweller.

·         Welcome us to your studio - where is it?
·         While I’m at JamFactory I’m based in a corner of the Metal Studio next to the Associates, but at home in Wales my studio is in a small barn on the hill farm where I live in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

·         What made you decide to come across the globe to work in the Metal Design Studio at the JamFactory in South Australia?
·         I’ve been aware of both JamFactory and South Australian jewellery for some time, so when a funding opportunity became possible then a residency at JamFactory as part of a bigger project was top of my list!

·         Are there any specific quotes, ideas, places that influence your current body of work?
·         ‘Landscape...... a mixture of imagination,geology and belonging.’ Robert Macfarlane

·         You have mentioned how the natural landscape is an influence on your work. Can you elaborate on this? And what have you experienced of the Australian landscape? What influence do you think this may have?
·         It’s the very particular landscape I live in, not landscape generally. It’s an area of mountains and secret valleys, hidden lakes high up and unexpected; iron-rich red soil and soft green hillsides. And most of all, wild and fast changing weather! The atmospheric conditions continually change what you see.
·         In Australia I’ve been able to go to the Flinders Ranges which was an unforgettable experience. The strong clear light, amazing colours and extraordinary rock formations will definitely be an influence, and will hopefully see me re-introduce colour into my work.

Rugged Landscape of Wales

             Does your method of production at the JamFactory differ from how you work in Wales, and how?  
             In Wales most of my recent work is in silver, both jewellery and objects, and is part of a consistent body of work. I’ve begun my residency at JamFactory by working through many new ideas,  drawing, model making, collaging metal components. By documenting them continuously I’m generating many possibilities quite fast which I will refine later.        
             Tell us about some of the experiences and challenges you have come across whilst being in Australia? 
        The small amount of travel I've done has been fantastic..... wish I had more time! I’m enjoying meeting so many other artists, seeing such a wide variety of work and learning about different materials. And Adelaide has some great museums and exhibitions too. Challenges..... I’m a long way from home! 
Pamela Rawnsley Artist Talk at JamFactory

·         What’s next for your practice after Australia?
       My residency at JamFactory is part of an 18 month project, supported by  funding from the Arts Council of Wales, which will enable me to produce a new body of work. (This happens along with the continuation of my current practise.) I was nominated for the funding by Ruthin Craft Centre, one of the U.K.’s premier galleries for the applied arts who have offered me a solo exhibition of this new work. And I hope it will be possible to tour the show both in Britain and, who knows, Australia!
      Pamela will be at Jamfactory for rest of September.
      Visit her website at

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Prue Venables on Vitrify & Creative Director's Choice

Tell us about the Creative Director’s Choice Exhibition.
I’ve chosen seven people for this exhibition. I think seven is a good number for this space. Each of these artists are people whose work I’ve followed for a long time, and really enjoyed watching the scope of how they approach their practice, and how their work reflects their personality. It’s work that I really admire. There are many many fantastic ceramic artists in Australia
I think all this work is really contemporary, but there is no theme for the exhibition. It’s just people who I really admire and respect.

Helen Fuller

I wasn’t looking for any particular style. I’m just looking for an individual approach to actually working with the material in an inventive way. There are some methods in common, but I think there’s something about a person sitting with the clay material and just exploring it that is reflected really strongly in these pieces of work.  I feel each person has taken on a great challenge with the material. They may have started with a traditional technique, but they’ve actually extended it into a way of working that’s become very
 much their own. 

Bruce Nuske
It’s interesting because they are working in the field of ceramics but there are influences of other visual approaches to things. There is architecture (Susan Robey is an architect), painting (Helen Fuller is a painter who has only recently come to ceramics). Each is working in a unique way that reflects their own life experiences.

Amy Kennedy
 All of the work surpasses being about a technique; it’s actually taken a material and a technique and done something that’s far beyond that.

How does this exhibition in Gallery Two compliment or fit in with HyperClay and Vitrify?
I think Vitrify and Hyperclay are exhibitions of work of a very high standard by very developed artists in their field. Both of these exhibitions provide an opportunity to include some wonderful work in this whole JamFactory-wide celebration of ceramics.

Susan Robey

These exhibitions are timed to coincide with the upcoming Ceramics Conference in Adelaide. Can you elaborate on that?
Yes, the ceramics conference is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the amazing variety of ceramics that are made here in Australia. We have these fantastic gallery spaces here and so it’s an opportunity for all of the ceramic artists who are coming to South Australia for the conference to see work of this high quality. The JamFactory is playing a very particular role in showcasing this level of work.

Louise Boscacci

You are also on the judging panel for Vitrify. Can you tell us about the award and the exhibition?
From a very highly competitive field, numerous ceramic artists entered from all over Australia and we, the three judges, Noel Franklin, Robert Reason and myself,  poured over the entries. We had many images  to look at and eventually decided on Stephen Bird, Tania Rolland, Neville French and Julie Bartholomew as the finalists. Three from NSW and Neville French is from Victoria. We chose them on the quality of their work, the inventiveness of their approach and also on the description of what they were planning to do should they be awarded a place in the final. Each had to provide a proposal of what they would create for a joint exhibition.
The three judges are all from different backgrounds; Noel Franklin is head of the School of art in Hobart, Robert Reason is the Curator of European and Australian Decorative Arts in the Art Gallery of South Australia, and I’m a Ceramic Artist and I’ve been a teacher for thirty years, so we all come from different backgrounds but we all have a strong love of ceramic art, and so working together as a team has been very interesting. The quality of work that’s been sent in for the final is very high and diverse. Just having this first initial look it’s going to be a very tough competition to decide who will be the final winner.
The quality, the technical expertise, the inventiveness and the personality in each of the artist’s work is quite extraordinary, so it’s yet another exciting exhibition here at JamFactory.

Stephen Bird

 Can you tell us about the artists selected?
Tania Rolland’s work has a very graphic quality. There is a beautiful essence of drawing  and its integration with ceramic  form and materials. The work of Neville French has a soft sculptural sort of ethereal landscape quality to it, reflecting his inspiration of the landscape at Lake Mungo.  Both Tania and Neville’s work is very strong and interesting.
Tania Rolland
Neville French
Julie Bartholomew’s work is about  showcasing  a hundred distinct critically endangered Australian flowers. These flowers are  shaped from white porcelain and held in a petri-dish-like container, suspended off the floor. They just make you want to explore, and also reflect the sadness that all these plants are getting lost. It’s almost as if the red glaze they are sitting in is like blood and there’s something leaking away.  It’s very strong and poignant as an installation.

Julie Bartholomew
Stephen’s work is extraordinary. It makes reference to the European ceramic traditions that relate to his origins in North Staffordshire in the UK.  Stephen uses humor and propaganda, and depicts meaningless violence to make observations about issues including politics, cultural imperialism and the global power struggle.  It’s extraordinary work!  For example, the paint tray and a whole collection of objects that are so beautifully made that they look like you could just pick them up and use them. It’s technically very impressive, but the underlying story behind it is also quite intriguing and challenging.

Stephen Bird

Vitrify is showing at JamFactory in CollectorSpace and the Showroom on level one until 1 October, with the winner being announced Friday 28 September. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Stephanie James-Manttan: Indent

Stephanie James-Manttan's current exhibition Indent is showing in CollectorSpace at JamFactory until 25 August.  She answered a few questions for us about this exhibition and her work in general.

Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?

I’m a bit of a late starter.  Before becoming an artist, I was a business analyst working in England and Sydney.  I’ve always loved art since good ole school days and also I was one of those people who like to draw and paint and do weekend drawing and sculpture courses. 

After moving back to Sydney in late 1999 with my husband and my beautiful 1 year old son, we settled into life, but September 11 came a long, my husband lost his job because and the business he was working for lost funding from one of their major venture capitalist from the US.  In short, we moved to Adelaide in 2002 where my husband fully supported me in following my passion for art, so I signed up for a visual arts degree at then Adelaide Centre for the Arts TAFE SA.  After completing my degree, I then took up the 2 year associate program at the JamFactory and have been there ever since.

Which craftspeople, writers, artists, musicians, anyone do you find particularly inspiring and how have they influenced your approach to making?

One of the major influences in my current arts practice is indigenous basket weaving.  I went to Alice Springs in 2008 to do a 2 week indigenous workshop from the women from Ernabella, I made the ceramics forms and the women decorated them.  While I was there I got to watch the women basket weave.  I was transfixed with how they grew from nothing and the repetition of the weave was comforting and mesmerizing.  When I got back to my studio, I sat at my pottery wheel with a lump of clay on it and just as the indigenous women of Ernabella would with a strip of fibre, I started to weave but with clay.  Well that’s the way I see.  I wheel throw the forms then I work around it with wooden tools as you would weaving.  I also love the soft organic nature of weaving and that was very important to me that this is reflected in my work.  Even though my work is evolving, it still incorporates this influence.

Are there any specific quotes, ideas, places that influence this current body of work?

I’m really liking the saying from a wise Vietnamese Buddhist monke … these a two of my favourites.

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

“Our own life has to be our message.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology

Are there any specific collections, museums that you have found inspiring and why?

The Museum of South Australia has a wonderful and beautiful large collection of indigenous basket weaving.   

Welcome us to your studio - where is it?

My studio is tucked away in the JamFactory’s main ceramics Studio.  I’m positioned between two wonderful ladies Helen Fuller and Maria Chatzinikolaki.  We talk, laugh and cry about life in general but we also support another’s work.  I miss them when they’re not about, but I do have all the other amazing associate in the studio to keep me preoccupied. 

The work for the exhibition: Can you describe the specific themes reflected in this body of work?

This body of work is all about extremes, what I can do to the objects before they no longer become functional.  Aesthetics play a larger part in my exhibition work than functionality.  I push, pull, squeeze and puncture the clay and push them to the utmost extremes.  Some rims quiver on the verge of equilibrium.  I love the fact that even thought I use the same process of some forms, they all look different … they have their own personality.  I’m also marking on the inside so you can see on the outside the smooth ripple effects that you would only normally see on the inside … if that all makes sense.

Describe your method of production in this current work?

All my forms are thrown on a pottery wheel and whilst they are still wet, I alter them.  I have to leave them until the clay is at a certain state before I touch them.  If I don’t do this the marks are not as clean and I don’t want the forms too dry then you don’t get that organic flow to them.  I use other materials to help support them during this process … but I won’t tell you what I use because it’s my little secret ;)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Maria Chatzinikolaki: Bellum

Maria Chatzinikolaki

Mugs by Maria Chatzinikolaki and Klaus Gutowski (available from The JamFactory Shop)

Maria Chatzinikolaki completed the JamFactory Associate Program last year, and is now a tenant in the Ceramic Studio. Her work is highly regarded and she was recently shortlisted for the SALA JamFactory Award. 
If you follow JamFactory on Facebook you may have seen a series of mugs (pictured above) which attracted the biggest response we've EVER had on a Facebook post!
Maria handpainted these mugs in a collaborative project with JamFactory tenant Klaus Gutowski. 
Her latest exhibition, Bellum, is showing at The JamFactory until 25 August. She talks about herself, her work, and more specifically Bellum.

Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?
Although I grew up in an artistic environment, becoming an artist for me was a pleasant accident. I found myself from working in retail for a shop that sold ceramics to working in their studio replacing one of their production ceramicists. Two years later I was decorating their main dinnerware range.
My dad was in the advertising business and my mom was a piano teacher and I always did crafty things as a kid with her and as an adult on my own trying to find a way to express myself. I now see that every single thing I have done has helped me choose my medium and shape my work to where it is now.

Which craftspeople, writers, artists, musicians, anyone do you find particularly inspiring and how have they influenced your approach to making?
Being influenced by pretty much everything, from paintings to poems, there are too many to mention here. Therefore I will talk about the ones who have influenced me directly by teaching or mentoring me.
Bruce Nuske showed me how to respect the medium I am working with and he taught me how clay is responding to my everyday attitude like a mirror.
Robin Best showed me basic techniques I was lacking experience in and advised me to focus on detail.
Prue Venables saw a different path and perspective in my work, reminded me to not be so hard on myself and last but not least, how important it is to be patient.
The combination of their help was all I needed to get kick-started.

Are there any specific quotes, ideas, places that influence this current body of work?
There is a quote that I always keep fresh in my mind. It is so diverse and it has helped me move on in my work to what I am doing now, as well as keep faith in myself in whatever I do even when things don’t go the way I want them to.
“Everything is connected in life. The point is to know it and to understand it”.
This quote is a reassurance that things, good or bad, always happen for a reason. It shows that there is always a link that connects the old with the new, whether that is work, decisions or everyday actions. I wouldn’t have this new body of work if I hadn’t produced previous bodies of work and it certainly comforts when something fails.

Are there any specific collections, museums that you have found inspiring and why?
Every visual stimulus is influential but I find art with foundation to be more solid when it comes to inspiration, like classical art movements that can never go wrong. You can always see a sense of freedom in exploring, regardless to how conservative each movement might be. This visible evolvement is easier found in museums and this is the reason I find them as most inspirational. You have the full history of art right there unrolling in front of you and challenging you to find the connections. Responding to that is my main inspiration.

Welcome us to your studio-where is it?
I am lucky to have my studio based in the heart of contemporary art. I am based on the second floor of the JamFactory in Adelaide. I have been working from there for a while and that is where I first attained my skills, started my practice, given fantastic opportunities and limitless support. I consider myself as a “JamFactory child” because that is where I was shaped as an artist and I can’t think of a better place to be or for a reason good enough to cut the umbilical cord and move on.

The work for your exhibition: Can you describe the specific themes reflected in this body of work?
Although my inspiration for the visual part of my work is coming from underwater life, my concept has derived from something different and has very little to do with it. It may sound contradicting, but in my work concept and inspiration are two different things that compliment each other.
On one hand my work is exploring the powerful relationship between time, moments and nature where each dot or mark represents a second of my life. Each piece requires a significant amount of time and that is why I have such a strong connection with each one of my pieces, as the process of creating is in itself as important as the final outcome.
On the other hand I aim to highlight the unseen, the invisible, the miniature and the easily overlooked. Weird and unique but interesting formations on any kind of surface and material (from rocks and plants to shells or even garbage) caused by the passing of time, by living organisms and deterioration itself are vital inspirational starting points.
I am not only concentrating on materials, their use, the skills required and the techniques involved but I am also focusing on reinterpreting patterns inspired by underwater life. Each finished item is just an interpretation and a combination of both my visual inspiration and my concept.

Describe your method of production in this current work.
I use liquid porcelain to cast my pieces in order to express curves influenced by nature and then I slip trail the same liquid porcelain in order to highlight and create detail. I work on my objects as much as I can when they are still damp, raw and unfired, I then edit and add detail after they have had their first firing at 900C and then I finalize everything by firing them at 1280C in an oxidation firing.

Bellum is at The JamFactory from 29 June - 25 August showing alongside Transparency, Blue Pony, and Indent. Drop by and see these great exhibitions at The JamFactory.