The term Artisan is very popular right now. And it's easy to slip into thinking of the term as a specific aesthetic, as an adjective synonymous with 'trendy' or a set of instructions. These definitions open themselves quite dangerously to classification, to oversimplification and mockery. But hidden amongst bakeries filled with Edison bulbs and hired-out handwritten signs, there are artisans like Emma Vinkovic of ERVCeramics. What begun with no commercial intent, but simply as an exploration into a technique she found beautiful. That they fit into so many modern trends toward the local and bespoke, to Hygge and a more general obsession with ceramics— these are only incidental crossovers in Emma's motivations to create the work she finds personally beautiful.
Emma is the daughter of Andrea Vinkovic, an accomplished sculptural ceramic artist. Whilst Emma initially had no interest in working with ceramics herself, she recalls seeing a picture of a vase and asking how the artist had gotten such a glaze. Andrea replied that the particular vase wasn't a glaze at all, and offered to show Emma the technique. Emma took the technique and used it to produce a series of vessels, but believed she had no reason to continue producing, and her ceramics practice almost finished there. And it wasn't others similarly stumbled on Emma's vessels, that Emma began to consider continuing to work in ceramics: As part of the Australian Design Festival, her and her mother had hosted four Perth designers to their home. The public were invited to meet the artists and see the home and studio. Andrea had put out some of Emma's pieces, and the interest was immediate. Emma now produces these beautiful ceramics full-time.
Despite using a comparatively niche technique, there are no trade secrets going on in Emma's practice. Pointing out some multi-coloured vessels in her latest batch, she gladly tells me they are the result of accidentally mixing two stains, many of which are indistinguishable until the ceramics are fired. The result is a delightful set of two-toned pink and gray marbled cups and bowls.
Emma tells me there are two moments which keep her making ceramics, the first being the unpredictability of the kiln and the nature of the clay: "when you first take them out of the mould and when you crack open the kiln after the glaze firing. The clay really has a mind of its own, I can control the colours and the amounts and so on, but I never really know how it's going to come out in the end. Sometimes I think it's going to have strong colours and it turns out really pastel, or that it's going to be subtle and there's just this wave of colours". The second, she says, is when taking the vessels out from the kiln: "Sometimes I'm really excited, and sometimes really nervous because while I have some idea of what it will look like I can never be absolutely certain. But that's the exciting thing about ceramics - it's all chemical reactions."
ERVCeramics are on Instagram and Facebook, and are stocked at William Topp, Mundaring Art Centre and Monde Design Store.