We had the chance to catch up with local ceramic artist, Larissa Warren, to chat about her journey with ceramics, connecting with her work and advice on finding your personal style. We take a deep dive into her background with sparks of wisdom that will leave you feeling inspired. 

Larissa Warren in her studio, known as 'Ratbag Studios', located in Mt TambourineA photo of Larissa work from a series called 'Lucid Dreams'. Sourced from her Instagram account @ratbagstudios
Born in Miami on the Gold Coast, Larissa was first introduced to the world of ceramics by her Grandmother, a painter and collector who managed a Potters Cottage. Over the years, her family has built an amazing collection of well-known ceramics from the Mid-Century. 
 
Larissa first began Pottery in School as part of her art class, at this time she discovered mixing and marbling clays, ‘it was purely because of a budget situation. We would have two open buckets of different clays and you would end up mixing them so you had enough.
 
Deciding to continue her love for art after school, she went on to study a bachelor's degree in Fine Art Photography, discovering the Darkroom and her love for experimentation, ‘I was criticised by most of my Lecturers for focussing too much on the experimentation rather than the concepts and resolving [artworks]. It’s only now in my forties that I’m able to resolve artworks’, she joked. 
 
After college, she decided to move into teaching and with lots of travel in between, settled back home on the Gold Coast. ‘I was always teaching ceramics but it wasn’t until after working with many ceramic artists that I decided to get back into clay’. Moving from hand-building and big figurative work to working with the vessel Larissa’s ceramics began to involve a lot of experimentation, including a lot of late nights, ‘I see lots of parallels between the darkroom and pottery. The patience you need and the amount of testing involved to get a good experiment’. It was also around this time that she discovered Porcelain, claiming that she grew up with a lot of stoneware and never really enjoyed the grittiness of it, especially when it came to more functional pieces.
 
After winning a people’s choice for the Gold Coast International Arts Award, Larissa was invited to run a workshop as part of the exhibition which quickly began her development in attending shows, exhibitions and workshops, ‘I wasn’t relying on pottery for an income back then, it just became so addicting’. She decided to pack a suitcase full of ceramics, flew to Sydney and walked from gallery to gallery introducing herself, ‘I secured a lot of galleries that way’. It was here she worked with Keane Ceramics and began to dive deeper into her love for clay. 
 
In 2019, Larissa decided to leave the classroom entirely to focus on her craft but still sharing a love for teaching and knowing she couldn’t mentally work out of the studio every day, she found a balance between the two. She decided to pack up and move to Mt Tamborine with her family, beginning her journey working with wild clays and tying a deep connection with the land and her work. 
A photo of raw mixed clay slabs standing next to each original raw clay unmixed

 

Q: How did you find your specific style? Was there anything in particular that inspired that?
A: I first heard of Agateware in an old textbook I had in School, I was also mixing clays back then. I’m always really inspired by patterns and colours. I love how you can form a landscape, meaning, any type of picturesque imagery, mood or movement, a rhythm within the line of the clay. I work backwards, always considering the surface before the body. I also don’t work with glazes. 
You can check out Larissa's work here.
 
Q: How did you get into working with wild clays?
A: I was working with different textures and embedding and was interested in raw materials already. I made this pot with black porcelain and BRT, and at this time I really wanted to go to the pits out at Dinmore in Ipswich, which is a big ask because these mines are leased by clay factories. I sent my pot to David Walker, who had bought Feeneys years ago, and he then introduced me to Steve, who was a terracotta thrower for Feeneys. He ended up taking me out to the pits. 


I had these visions that the clay pits would be all these layers of colours but it wasn’t. It’s really just a bit of this clay here, and that clay there. Realising BRT was just this and that clay mixed, it all clicked for me. You know when something just clicks? I was also a History teacher so I was always interested in Australian Ceramics Post-War, extensive research on this got me to digging clay out at Mt Tamborine.


Q: You’ve been teaching throughout your career and continue to run workshops including your upcoming Agateware Workshops with us at Stone Studio. What’s your favourite part about teaching?
A: I really challenge and push people to explore what I teach them in different ways. I encourage them to take it to different lengths, and I end up leaving my workshops feeling so inspired. Selfishly, that’s what I love most, it brings me back to my experimentation days in the darkroom. 
Also, if you teach wheel-throwing, you will know that it makes you a better wheel-thrower. 


Q: Do you have any advice for beginner potters or those who want to dive deeper into their craft?
A: I think it’s important to have a deep connection to your materials whether it's a glaze recipe you’ve tweaked or a particular throwing style you have. I also think to gain a following of buyers and fans, they should be able to recognise when your hand was in something, it’s important to show your identity through your work. I often tell my students who are wanting to sell their work, if they have another means of income, to wait until they’re really ready. Go to experienced potters for advice before you make the decision to sell. Internships and mentorships can be so valuable.


Also, write about your work! It forces you to stop and think about why you do certain things, it's not just muscle memory, and gives you a better understanding of who you are as an artist.

A photo showcasing a selection of porcelain cups from a cup collection by Larissa Warren. Photo sourced from her Instagram account @ratbagstudios


We are so thrilled to have Larissa in the studio teaching her Agateware Workshop. Join us on the 19th of August, you can secure your spot here.

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