Meet Ceramic Artist, Robyn Hartman
Who is Robyn Hartman?
I am a proud mum, wife, professional ceramic artist and lover of nature and I’m very fortunate to live along the Mullum Mullum Trail, close to incredible flora and fauna. This inspires me in every capacity of my life, including Art.
Have you always worked in ceramics?
After finishing HSC with a passion for everything creative, I attended Monash University and gained a Fine Arts Degree in Ceramic Design at the top of my field.
I worked as a professional potter from my studio in Park Orchards selling my wares at St Kilda Market before moving to the Arts Centre Market when it was originally developed to showcase Melbourne’s finest artisans.
During those years I did some contract work for Robert Gordon, which was a valuable experience with a high-volume production pottery company. I also taught ceramics at Potters Cottage in Warrandyte and had solo and group exhibitions at galleries around Melbourne.
Belonging to The Box Hill Clay Workers was very nourishing professionally and personally. This community group of women met and worked together on a Thursday, sharing knowledge, ideas and encouraged and supported each other and our work.
University called me again to obtain a Diploma in Visual Merchandising, working in that industry before having a family and going back to my roots in pottery.
Mud Pit Studio was born in my backyard where I started adult and children’s classes, inspiring like-minded people and sharing techniques of the trade.
Where do you source your inspiration from?
I am inspired by nature, always picking up feathers, leaves, rocks and stones that attract my eye as I go for my daily walk. This also enables me to practice mindfulness as I embrace the colour, shape, and the changing season and the role it plays in natural evolution. It brings a soothing sense of calmness and connection to me.
I like the clay to show its natural fired form, the iron spots, the coloured glazes and a combination of the two, reflecting its earthy tones. Imprinting flowers and leaves into clay also takes the work back to nature, to home and to Australia.
I have added another dimension to my pottery craft with sculptural work. Of recent, that has been exploring the relationships between humans and dogs. I capture the fun characteristics of man’s best friend and enjoy their simple playful nature and the humour in their personalities.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
My style aesthetic is to create functional, quality crafted and finished pieces. I like to show detail and originality in my craftsmanship and generate an emotive response to the eye of the beholder. Each Art form should have a sense of beauty and individual character. I work hard on individual glaze finishes that make the work pop and compliment the form. My style should look simple but stunning, classic yet original.
Do you have any new projects in 2022?
After the last few years that have hit small business hard, and a lot of reflection, I am working on a functional native Australian range. In addition, I am creating a mottled glaze range whilst I continue to develop my sculptural work on dogs, combining the way they are displayed with recycled woods and natural objects.
What’s your favourite piece in the collection? Why?
My favourite piece in my collection is a stunning blue bowl. The way the glaze has behaved on the surface is very unique. Some people may not know but glazes can be extremely unpredictable. Glazes can turn out differently depending on the clay body, the thickness, whether it has been applied with a brush, poured or dipped or even sprayed on. It can also depend on whether it’s been fired in a gas or electric kiln, what position it was in and how quickly or slowly the temperature of the kiln goes up or cools down. Sometimes you can open the kiln to a mind-blowing piece you can never replicate. That’s what makes a bespoke range exciting. Individual maker marks mean two pieces are never the same.
My favourite sculptural piece was in a pre covid group exhibition called “Clay in Motion” at Ladder Art space and gallery in Kew. It’s a playful progressive piece of a dog riding a skateboard showing three stages of running with the board, getting onto the board and riding the skateboard.
Can you share three resources you turn to for creative inspiration?
Nature is the obvious resource, good old Pinterest is another and the resources such as The Ceramic School where people, techniques, processes, tools, knowledge and workshops are at your fingertips from anywhere in the world. There is always someone happy to help troubleshoot with a like-minded, fellow potter.
Where do you see trends in the industry going?
Already I see the industry moving towards buying local, supporting artists, keeping the economy going after all the trying times of the past few years. Clay is on trend and buyers are appreciating the earthy touch and feel of a handmade pot as opposed to the bought, mould made, factory made, impersonal product. It’s nice to know it’s a one of a kind, made from an artisan that has crafted their skills over many years. This makes a gift more personal and is what Mud Pit Studio is all about.