Ceramicist Alana Wilson creates perfectly imperfect pieces in her Sydney studio.
WINTERIORS STYLE? HAS THIS EVOLVED OVER TIME? I feel I have developed an intrinsic sense of balance and appreciation of the clarity of emptiness, not just in interiors. Thoughts and form dwell in emptiness so I find a relatively streamlined environment is conducive to working and living. I’ve also learnt not to become attached to certain ideas, physical objects, and ways of perceiving. Especially for environments that you live and work in every day, I feel it’s important to still have the open-mindedness and potential for evolution and change. WHAT INITIALLY APPEALED TO YOU ABOUT THE SITE OF YOUR STUDIO? DID IT REQUIRE SIGNIFICANT ALTERATION? Being near the water and the vast natural space is what drew me to set up my studio in Tamarama. I live nearby too, so it’s a nice balance of being close to the city and close to my professional network. My studio is a large garage space, slightly sloped to allow for run-off, so everything needed levelling – shelves, working surfaces, and the kiln. WHAT WERE SOME OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR YOUR STUDIO AND HOW WERE THESE REFLECTED IN THE DESIGN BRIEF? Primarily it had to be functional and allow for a seamless work flow throughout the entire ceramics process. The space is long and narrow which helped establish a systematic approach to the layout. One end allows more messy work – glazing, firing, packaging. In the centre is where I make most works, as well as a cleaner space for observing and research. At the back of the studio are shelves of finished work, with plinths and surfaces throughout so works can be observed in different light and from different angles. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE COMPLETED INTERIOR? Functional, whitewashed and sandy. The walls are old whitewashed sandstone
and over time they deteriorate – evidence of time passing and their natural character. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN ELEMENTS? I love the old sandstone walls. The house is one of the oldest on the street, built in 1930, with minimal changes since then. Not specifically a design element, but I love the outlook and being able to watch the water and horizon from the studio, looking out over South Tamarama and South Bronte cliffs. I can see the whales and dolphins go by, and observe the light change throughout the day and the landscape change through the seasons. WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY BEHIND THE WORK THAT YOU DO AND HOW IS THIS REFLECTED IN THE DESIGN OF YOUR SPACE? My work seeks to explore and embrace decay, destruction and texture with reference to ancient utilitarian forms and archaeological artefacts. The vessels predominantly depict an unassuming beauty amidst their functionality, which connotates a connection to human life and the human body. I also embrace these philosophies within myself so it is no wonder they have remained evident in the studio environment – deteriorating sandstone walls, functional work flow throughout the space, and an awareness of the history of the area, but also the perpetual cycles of change. IS THERE A PARTICULAR DESIGN ERA OR STYLE THAT RESONATES WITH YOU? I am particularly drawn to and am consistently researching Minimalist art. The works and writings of James Turrell, Robert Irwin, Donald Judd. I discovered Judd’s work in art school and had a copy of his writings, one of which I would read religiously every evening. The attention to material treatment, quality of construction and primary emphasis on the experiential process resound strongly with how I relate to artworks myself and how I believe artworks should be experienced. Robert Irwin’s Notes Toward A Conditional Art has been extremely influential in terms of analysing the perceptual process within the viewer, presence of form, and human physicality and conditioning in relation to any exterior environment – artwork or otherwise. WHICH ARCHITECTS OR INTERIOR DESIGNERS DO YOU ADMIRE? I greatly admire the work of Katie Lockhart, Rufus Knight and George Livissianis. I also love the work of John Pawson, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s concrete block houses. I visited the Ennis House in Los Angeles and was blown away by the monolithic nature of it. IS THERE AN ART OR DESIGN PIECE THAT YOU ARE COVETING FOR THE HOME OR STUDIO? In respect of practising the art of nonattachment, I don’t covet artworks or design pieces at all. However, I do love living with pieces that friends or colleagues have created. ‘T’ – an exhibition of tea bowls by Romy Northover and Alana Wilson, November 2–December 31 at Floating Mountain Tea House, 239 W72nd St, New York. alanawilson.com