If you will permit me I wish to indulgence is a small act of hubris. In my kitchen there is a small bowl which is in constant use. This was one of the very first ceramic objects I made back in 2007. Holding it in my hands I think to myself “Look how far you’ve come.”.

It all began by completing a Bachelor of Visual Arts majoring in ceramics at Sydney College of the Arts.

Elisa Bartels ceramics, raku bowl, 2007

Elisa Bartels Raku Bowl 2007

When Mitsuo Shoji, who was still teaching at Sydney College of the Arts, saw this bowl and my dejected demeanour he made the comment that this bowl would be well looked upon in Japan. Those kind words gave me some degree of hope. Thank you Mitsuo.

Elisa Bartels ceramic sculpture

Elisa Bartels, Refuse The Refuse, 2008

So much of time at SCA was spent in contemplation of what emotion or message I was trying to convey through my work. It was all about completion and resolution. All the pieces had a purpose.

Elisa Bartels ceramic sculpture for final year at Sydney College of the Arts

Elisa Bartels, Colour of Crazy, 2009

This was the culmination of my time at SCA. A work which attempted to visually portray the schizophrenic mind of a gentleman I once met.

The world of ceramics is wide and varied in it’s techniques and outcomes. Some find their place quickly; others, like me, take time to discover what resonates. My initial aim with ceramics was to focus on functional ware; it made sense because of my previous career working with food. However, my talent on the wheel did not live up to the excellent array of pieces I saw online and in galleries. So I had a hard conversation with myself and decided to put aside any preconceived idea of how my ceramic practice would evolve and as John Olsen so eloquently phrased it “follow the line”.

The images that follow are all from the years that I have spent at Brookvale TAFE after graduating from university.

Elisa Bartels sculptural ceramics

Yes I have made some functional ware but mainly for my own use.

Elisa Bartels, Nesting Bowls

Elisa Bartels, Nesting Bowls

And finally, I find myself balancing a few different enquires of work. The first and most ambitious are my floating mosaics.

Elisa Bartels Ceramic Designs floating mosaic

Elisa Bartels; North Curl Curl Pool; 2013; H:1800cm, W: 1800cm.

The complexity of this work keep me equally intrigued and frustrated. At present I’m trying to complete a new floating mosaic which is driving me insane as it will not bend to my creative will. As a welcome aside to these big pieces I also make sculptural vessels which are slipcast and black fired.

Elisa Bartels ceramic designer black fired beaker

Elisa Bartels, 2014, Black fired slip cast beaker.

and with the left over coloured clay from my mosaics I fashion jewellery. Modern and simple pieces which are lightweight and easy to wear.

Elisa Bartels Ceramic Bead Necklace with Neoprene and Sterling Silver Chain.

Elisa Bartels Ceramic Bead Necklace with Neoprene and Sterling Silver Chain.

As you can see I’ve come a long way in 8 years and the exciting part is that I can’t say for certain where I’ll be when I next decided to collate a retrospective of my work.


About Elisa Bartels

A ceramic artist/designer and sporadic botanical dyer chatting and photographing the trials, tribulations and celebrations of being an artist who doesn't want to starve.
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