MADE BY HAND

OUT OF HER RU­RAL STU­DIO, BRID­GET BO­DEN­HAM CRAFTS ART­FUL CE­RAMIC WARES JUST IN TIME FOR CHRIST­MAS.

Country Style - - CONTENTS - WORDS VIR­GINIA IMHOFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHY MARK ROPER STYLING LEE BLAYLOCK

Ceram­i­cist and mak­ers’ mar­ket favourite Brid­get Bo­den­ham is craft­ing dec­o­ra­tions for the sea­son.

CERAM­I­CIST BRID­GET BO­DEN­HAM cel­e­brates Christ­mas with her fam­ily at their bush­land home just out­side the cen­tral Vic­to­rian town of Hep­burn Springs. The gather­ing in­cludes her fam­ily, a few friends and the fam­ily’s young Rot­tweil­ers, Obie and Pearl. With a spread of fes­tive fare laid out on a rus­tic ta­ble on their wide stone ve­ran­dah, with views out over the for­est canopy and dis­tant hills, it’s a day that flows on in its own re­laxed rhythm. “Our day is low-key and I’m not into the com­mer­cial as­pect of Christ­mas,” ex­plains the 32-year-old, who lives and works in the fam­ily home of con­verted ship­ping con­tain­ers that also ac­com­mo­dates her mother, Madeleine, an artist and art con­ser­va­tor, her sis­ter, Emily, Emily’s part­ner, Lance, and their six-year-old daugh­ter, Aurora. Brid­get’s brother, Will, her as­sis­tant in the ce­ramic stu­dio, lives in nearby Dayles­ford. “Emily’s do­main at Christ­mas is the tree, and she will colour­co­or­di­nate it,” says Brid­get. “We have a meal out on a big ta­ble >

as late in the day as we can pull it off with all of us and in­vited friends. I’m vege­tar­ian and most of the fam­ily aren’t too meat-heavy so we’ll have sal­ads, lots of roast ve­g­ies, Mum does her sig­na­ture nut loaf, and Em does a tri­fle.” Brid­get also looks for­ward to cel­e­brat­ing and serv­ing the fruit of the sea­son man­goes, cher­ries and stone fruit and the chance to lay the ta­ble with her hand­crafted ce­ramic wares. This year, the ta­ble’s cen­tre­piece will be a gold-em­bel­lished ce­ramic crown. “I made the crowns last year. A lot of peo­ple bought them for the ta­ble and put can­dles or a vase and flo­ral ar­range­ments in them.” Dur­ing the year, Brid­get is a reg­u­lar at de­sign mar­kets around the coun­try. How­ever, the lead-up to Christ­mas is her busi­est time as she pre­pares for the Fin­ders Keep­ers and The Big De­sign mar­kets in Mel­bourne and Syd­ney. Plans for a new spa­cious, pur­pose-built stu­dio and liv­ing com­plex, which is cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion down the hill, have also been keep­ing the ceram­i­cist busy. The new space will be a change from the con­tainer stu­dio, over­look­ing the fam­ily’s kitchen gar­den, where Brid­get has worked for more than a decade. In the close con­fines of the con­tainer stu­dio, the shelves are packed with ghostly pale, newly fired pieces. There are also fin­ished pieces glazed, tex­tured and coloured ce­ram­ics in myr­iad forms. Among them are scal­lop-edged plates and bowls, tiny serv­ing spoons, kitchen uten­sils, teacups with gold han­dles, wa­ter­ing cans, hang­ing planters and whim­si­cal Crea­ture vases for hold­ing a sin­gle bloom. Brid­get picks up a box of tiny stars and hearts. “Some of these lit­tle shapes are for ear­rings, Christ­mas tree hearts and my star brooches,” she says. “I’ve also been mak­ing pod-like and sculp­tural shapes for hang­ing on trees, and a big gold star that can hang in a win­dow.” Af­ter study­ing arts and ce­ram­ics at the Univer­sity of Bal­larat (now Fed­er­a­tion Univer­sity), Brid­get started cre­at­ing tac­tile, sculp­tural pieces that re­flected her love of food-prepa­ra­tion cul­ture mainly small-scale uten­sils, bowls, spoons, pad­dles, pes­tles and serv­ing dishes. While her early work was as of­ten or­ganic earth­en­ware as it was del­i­cate and frag­ile porce­lain, ev­ery unique hand­crafted piece worked to­gether as a col­lec­tion. As Brid­get’s work has evolved over the years, she’s added jewellery: ear­rings, beads, rings, ban­gles and brooches to fill up the small spa­ces in the kiln. She cur­rently also loves mak­ing gar­den planters. “I am plan­ning all kinds of plant-re­lated stuff such as orchid pots and vases,” she says. Colour, in the form of sum­mery and play­ful stripes, gold and sil­ver em­bel­lish­ments, and ging­ham and check pat­terns, have be­gun to in­fuse and stylis­ti­cally con­nect her lat­est work. “And while they are all dif­fer­ent, they all link to­gether,” Brid­get says. Two re­cent trips to Ja­pan have fur­ther in­vig­o­rated her prac­tice. “The first trip was so over­whelm­ing it was hard to fo­cus, but since my most re­cent trip I have honed in on smaller dishes and shapes,” she says. “The indigo I’m us­ing is a Ja­panese in­flu­ence, and I think the scal­loped edge on some of my work has come from there.” But it’s the bush that has al­ways been Brid­get’s muse; and on daily walks through the prop­erty with Pearl and Obie, it’s the ran­dom shapes and tex­tures of na­ture that res­onate with her. “I do think the en­vi­ron­ment greatly in­forms my work and en­cour­ages my cre­ativ­ity and ex­plo­ration,” she says. “Ev­ery year I feel like I learn all over again how the sea­sons change and bring new­ness.” Brid­get Bo­den­ham’s ce­ram­ics are avail­able at brid­get­bo­den­ham­ce­ram­ics.big­car­tel.com

Un­fired, hand-thrown vases left to dry. FAC­ING PAGE ‘Ms Pos­sum’, pic­tured here in a eu­ca­lyp­tus wreath, “ap­peared one day and has been very friendly. We are try­ing to leave her be as much as pos­si­ble,” says Brid­get.

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