‘I started doing ceramics two and a half years ago,’ Guy Vadas of Céramiques explains of his creative practice, which went from fledgling to established in a matter of months. ‘One of my friends was doing it at this little old lady’s house around the corner from where I used to live, and she invited me along to sit around and create pieces, drink tea and eat biscuits. It was me, my friend, and probably four or five 60-70-year-old ladies, and I just loved it.’
Walking home from these sessions with his handbuilt creations, and a confusing sense of connection with the art form, Guy realised this was what passion felt like. Fast forward a few years, and Guy now owns two studios (one in Elsternwick and one in Camberwell) where he teaches pottery classes and public workshops full time.
Guy describes himself as a ceramicist-entrepreneur. He is charming to listen to, talking enthusiastically about the septuagenarians he learnt his craft from, and reflecting confidently about the shape his business has taken over its short lifespan. Located in a side street in Elsternwick, the beautiful old building where he holds his classes has an exposed industrial ceiling, and light streams through into the workshop. The sense of community here is what excites Guy most about his craft, along with the way in which his practice connects him to nature.
‘I draw inspiration from everyday life, whether it be a chair or a tree. You can conceptualise many regular objects into a pot and, I know it sounds a bit far-fetched, but sometimes I look at something and think, ‘Oh, if that was a pot what would it look like?’ And it gives me something to explore.’
Excavating everyday objects for a seed of creative inspiration has proved more essential than ever in the last few weeks. Due to current government regulations, Guy’s big, bright, open spaces in Elsternwick and Camberwell are closed to the public, and classes have halted indefinitely. For a business model that relies on public gatherings for 99% of its revenue, Guy recognised the need early to pivot hard towards a digital model.
He got to work, assembling at-home kits consisting of ten kilograms of hand building clay and a tool kit, ordered through the Céramiques website. Guy posts 3-4 tutorial videos to Instagram every day, so kit-buyers can follow along at home, and has interstate kiln affiliates so buyers from around the country can get still get their work fired. Despite the texture and earthiness of clay and the spirit that lies in its tactility, switching to online early-on and maximising social media has been an enormous success. ‘That side of things – allowing people to create while they’re kind of being forced to – has been really great. We’re forced to be at home and pottery is a really nice process to enjoy at home,’ he explains.
Guy has tapped into something vital during this isolation period of indeterminate length. Not only can people not go outside or gather in public places, but they are stuck at home with nothing to do. Though there is a lot of commentary flying around the Internet that you don’t need to ‘make the most’ of quarantine time, it does seem that there’s no better time than now to pick up a creative hobby if you have the time and the headspace. Make clay while the sun shines!
If you’re housebound and looking for a way a way to support small business/any excuse to learn something new, you can purchase one of Guy’s at-home clay kits here and view his Instagram tutorials here!