The importance of mentors
I wanted to write this post as a thank you to my mentor, Stewart Scambler, who has done so much to encourage me and to pass on his skills and enthusiasm for all things ceramic. I started clay classes as a hobby and it quickly became apparent to me that it was a passion. Due to personal circumstances I was not able to attend a structured learning program such as those that used to be offered at TAFE (higher education for non Australians). In some ways this has frustrated me as I have wanted to learn as much as I can and always felt that a structured learning program would enable me to do this. However, in hindsight, I feel incredibly lucky to have had the freedom to master skills at my own pace and to focus my learning on my own work rather than facing deadlines and assessments. I have always tried to attend as many classes and/or workshops as I can and have really enjoyed working with local ceramic artists – Sandra Black for her porcelain skills, Greg Crowe for his throwing and Stewart Scambler’s Fremantle Arts Centre class. I have also gained a great deal from attending the Ceramic Arts Association of Western Australia’s bienniale ‘Potober’ event. This has enabled me to meet and learn from a wide range of international and national artists.
Stewart loading the kiln at Fremantle Arts Centre.
During the last year since I was selected for the Here and Now 2014 exhibition at Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, I have struggled with making the leap from enthusiastic amateur to emerging professional artist. This rationale for this exhibition is to challenge emerging (and emerged) Western Australian ceramic artists to extend their artistic practice by experimenting with both technical and conceptual approaches. As part of the process the University of Western Australia allocated me a mentor to help guide the way. I have been lucky enough to work closely with Stewart over the last year as he has gently coaxed me from blind panic to a coherent body of work. For this, I am incredibly grateful to both UWA and to Stewart.