artists who work with clay

I'm gathering a lovely collection of ceramics that will soon be available to purchase online. There are some pieces arriving in the next couple of weeks from Queensland artist, Susan Simonini, who is custom-making some drinking vessels exclusively for the store. 

work-in-progress : susan's hand-sculpted pieces for the store (left) soon to be glazed like this (right)

that speckled glaze was love at first sight !

As I'm emailing artists, creating categories and posting on social media, I tend to second guess the word I use to describe 'an artist who works with clay'. 'Ceramicist' comes to mind first, but there seems to be different terms that people prefer and I'm still trying to understand which term is appropriate for what technique.

Last year, I met a young 'artist who works with clay' who preferred the term 'potter' as she thought ceramicist / ceramist was inappropriate for the style of work she creates. Her work is all wheel-thrown and is fired using beautiful age-old techniques.

There are several terms used to define an 'artist who works with clay'. Potter, ceramist, ceramicist, ceramic artist etc. If you work solely with slip cast, does that exclude you from the term 'potter'? Does it make a difference if you work with porcelain or stoneware clays? Yep, still confused.

So, I asked Susan how she described herself as an 'artist who works with clay'.

' I prefer to be called a ceramic artist. Although I hold a fine art degree, I have never undertaken studies in ceramics, so would not consider myself a pure ceramicist or potter. I prefer to approach my studio work with an artist's eye, allowing each piece to evolve organically. I allow this process to determine the end product, whether it be a piece of art or a functional object. Each individual form and each type of clay lends itself to different surface treatments, so some pieces are simply glazed and others become highly decorated with my art. So I guess I am primarily an artist working in the medium of ceramics.'

A post featured today on The Design Files was about the family behind Robert Gordon Australia - one of the last production potteries left in Australia. Their long family history in the art of clay & pottery studios, stemming back to the 1940s, has created three generations of potters. 

Whatever the term, I love artists who work with clay