Prue Venables is one of Australia’s most accomplished ceramics artist. Hear how Prue went from a career in science to pottery; how three tiny porcelain jugs changed everything for her; and her controversial advice for new makers.
Prue Venables makes porcelain vessels - like jugs and beakers, ladles and colanders - that elevate humble domestic objects to exquisite works of art. They are smooth and elegant, with a minimal colour palette of white, metallic black and sometimes red.
The Australian Design Centre honoured Prue as a Living Treasure in 2019.
GuestsPrue Venables http://pruevenables.com/ (http://pruevenables.com/)
Neville French, former Teacher and Coordinator of Ceramics, Arts Academy, University of Ballarat. He taught with Prue for many years. https://www.nevillefrench.com/ (https://www.nevillefrench.com/)
Show highlights and takeawaysThe foundation of me [10:32 mins]Prue's earlier study of music and science became the foundation of how she thinks and approaches her craft. "The thinking and the discipline, the asking questions and exploring things."
Approach with an inquisitive mind [11:03 mins]Prue credits her curiosity to her science and music teachers, "people who were really inventive and exploratory thinkers....I watched what they did and what they said to me and it just built up a sort of way of being really. "
Throwing multiple things at the same time [12:13 mins]Using a number of wheels at the same time is standard practice for Prue. She says that with porcelain, it's often actually better to make something on and let it sit and not move it. As soon as you move it in any way, you get this sort of ripple response in the body of the clay, and that could come out in the firing.
Handmade tools [12:55 mins]Many of Prue's ceramics tools are made by her out of junk, as she puts it - old hacks saw blades ground down into make a little sharp knife or something to almost grate the clay. She says that when she can't find these handmade tools, she can't work. "It's like you become dependent on these little things."
The most important technique for porcelain [16:26]Prue believes the most important technique for working with porcelain is that you have to listen to it because it'll tell you what it'll let you do. She says that what's needed with porcelain is "a sense of, that it's always a developing knowledge.That you start with the material. You have to really feel what the material wants to let you do, and then explore that. And gradually, gradually gradually move the edges and change the parameters as you go. In a way you have to respect what it's telling you."
Visiting Takeshi Yasuda in the pottery workshops of Jingdezhen, China [18: 24 mins]Prue visited Jingdezhen on the insistence of Japanese potter and director of the pottery workshop there, http://www.takeshiyasuda.com/ (Takeshi Yasuda). Prue describes how Takeshi used to say, "Why haven't you come? You should come. if you don't come soon, it'll be too late!"
Prue describes it as amazing, seeing ceramic works that she couldn't believe possible like big tiles that have four meters by one meter wide or one and a half meters wide.
An artist's path is not an easy path [20:49 mins]"The hardest thing is accepting it's something in yourself that needs that, and then just doing it."
So many times I've met people who've said, Oh, I really want to do this. But everyone tells me that you can't make a living or you can't do this, or you shouldn't, or you should do something more reliable. Often it’s the parental voice talking, but I always say, You have one life. I don't think it is an easy path, but then many paths aren't easy."
Advice to makers [21:50 mins]Prue's advice to makers is
to try and always do the best work you can.
learn to be really discriminating.
don't keep everything.
look widely around you and experiment.
don't ever use social media as your reference material, because the world is so much bigger than that.
Once you start selling, you...