DE­SIGN FILES

Cuisine - - CRISPY BITS - / BETTY CHUNG /

BETTY CHUNG BE­LIEVES that her two favourite things com­ple­ment each other per­fectly. “I’m an ar­chi­tect by day and a pot­ter by night. I get my in­spi­ra­tion as a ceramic artist from ar­chi­tec­ture,” she says. “No mat­ter how much I’m in­volved in an ar­chi­tec­ture project, even if I do the de­sign, doc­u­men­ta­tion and build, there’s a dis­tance be­tween my­self and the build­ing. With clay, it’s formed 100% with my own hands – that’s very sat­is­fy­ing and some­thing you can’t get in ar­chi­tec­ture.” And the more hands-on skills can creep into the ar­chi­tec­ture life, too. When the time came to show a Mel­bourne client a model of their new apart­ment build­ing, in­stead of the usual card­board model Betty re­alised the con­cept in clay, craft­ing a clay model as a to­tally prac­ti­cal yet uniquely beau­ti­ful tool.

Just as her art is flavoured by her ar­chi­tec­tural work, she also draws in­flu­ences from her cul­tural back­ground, us­ing her work to ex­press her Asian her­itage as well as her up­bring­ing in a Western cul­ture. All these strands can be glimpsed: hand-paint­ing rem­i­nis­cent of Chi­nese cal­lig­ra­phy swirls across plates, gritty tex­tures con­trast with satin-smooth glaze on a tiny pot and spoon.

She be­lieves, “A plate is not just a plate, it’s a mem­ory cue.” Just as the sight, smell and taste of food trig­gers memories, so the plate it’s pre­sented on can echo that, too. This aes­thetic has re­sulted in sev­eral com­mis­sions for flat­ware, in­clud­ing sushi plates for a su­pery­acht, plat­ters and plates for Mikey New­lands at Bracu restau­rant in the Bom­bay Hills and Ode in Wanaka.

The com­mit­ment re­quired to pur­sue a full time ca­reer in ar­chi­tec­ture and run a flour­ish­ing pot­tery busi­ness, Betty Chung Ce­ram­ics, de­mands time-man­age­ment skills most of us would balk at. “The dis­ci­pline re­quired is huge,” Betty ad­mits, “but if you love some­thing you can al­ways find time. Not hav­ing time is just an ex­cuse.” Add in the role of teacher at her re­cently es­tab­lished pot­tery work­shops, and her days just got even busier.

Betty runs pop-up work­shops that teach the five essen­tial skills of hand- build­ing pot­tery: pinch-pot tech­niques; slab­work tech­niques; coil tech­niques; fin­ish­ing tech­niques and slip-work tech­niques such as sten­cilling and sgrafitto. “Pot­tery is a life­long pas­sion,” she says and that’s what she’d like to pass to stu­dents who join her in her stu­dio. bet­ty­chung.com

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