Ceramicist Amy Leeworthy’s Coastal Retreat
Photography by Camille Moir
This week we meet talented ceramicist Amy Leeworthy at her home by the sea in Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Along with her two children Ellis and Delilah, Amy has embraced the beauty and adventure of living so close to nature. We had the pleasure of speaking to Amy about the many beautiful pieces of art and objects that adorn her space, the evolution of her practice, and why she’s quite simply “smitten with clay”.
“I moved down here five years ago from Melbourne because I was craving trees, ocean and sky. It's actually the longest I've spent in one house that I can remember. It’s small and cute with sea views from both upstairs and downstairs. The first time I viewed the house I couldn't remember anything about it afterwards because I must have just walked straight to the windows. It feels a bit like a boat that's run aground. I indulged in the romance of that a lot during the lockdowns - watching the container ships go by and imagining being whisked away to anywhere else.”
“At the back of the house, I have a little studio where I make all my work. It’s such a privilege to have a space that is solely dedicated to making, I'll never get over that. I work mainly alone here, though the studio is open to the kids as well. Sometimes friends come and work alongside me which I love, such as artist Natalie Bessel who IN BED has featured previously.”
“I’ve put my bed under the corner window which I think is bad Feng Shui, but I love waking up and glimpsing the sea through the curtains. It also makes a perfect place for afternoon sunbathing when the sun shines through onto my bed. There is really only room for the essentials in here. There’s no built-in storage, so for clothing I use a vintage painted dresser and a long wooden clothing rack that was made by my friends Pop & Scott. My favorite object in the space is a large weaving by Anna Fiedler. It is very dreamy and the perfect piece to gaze at from in bed.
“There are so many special and sentimental objects in the house. A standout is a ceramic vase made by my late grandmother. It has a really vibrant energy. I didn't actually know that she made pottery until a long time after she died so it’s nice to have this piece to connect me to her. Other things I love are a sculpture of the solar system that my son made when he was four, a framed collection of painted clay off-cuts made by my daughter, an abstract painting by Nell Pearson, a sculptural side-table by Bruce Armstrong, a weaving by Jessica Blume and photographs by Emilie Wright and others.”
“The best things to do around here are all outside. Surfing, hiking, mushroom-picking and swimming in rock pools are some of our favorite activities. Recently, I’ve taken up diving for abalone and it has opened up a whole new world for me, swimming among the kelp forests.”
Recently, I’ve taken up diving for abalone and it has opened up a whole new world for me, swimming among the kelp forests.
“I’ve always had a creative practice of some sort - painting, sculpture, video and printmaking for example. My ceramic practice is a relatively recent endeavor that began when my kids were young. I started playing around on a pottery wheel, making rudimentary objects like egg cups and ashtrays. Overtime, I honed my skills through trial, error and Youtube, which opened up the possibilities of what I could make. There is so much to learn in ceramics and my practice is continually evolving as I learn new skills.”
“When making a vase you are automatically borrowing from a rich history of vase forms that came before you. This includes drawing on established curves, lines and materials and techniques that have been used in ceramics for centuries. I like the challenge of slipping into this enduring tradition in some small way. My work straddles a line between sculptural and functional and I try to create works that are visually interesting and compositionally strong while also serving a specific use such as holding water, flowers or wine.”
“My approach to making is largely hands-on and intuitive, at least initially. Most often when I'm working on a new piece I don't have a concrete idea in mind of what the end form will be. I prefer to let the form take shape organically and then make modifications to it at a later stage.”
I prefer to let the form take shape organically and then make modifications to it at a later stage.
“Right now, I’m pretty smitten with clay, but I’m sure I will return to other art forms in the future. I have been drawing a little bit lately which is a nice change of pace. It's so direct and immediate, I love the speed and simplicity of drawing.”
“For the rest of the year, I’m looking forward to seeing how my practice evolves this year, seeing friends more and spending more time in the ocean. I’m also really excited to have a big party for my eldest who is turning 10. I recently went on my first solo hiking/camping trip and I really loved it so hopefully I’ll be able to do more of this too this year.”