INTERVIEWED BY Michaela Stehr IMAGES Supplied
Mich Mellow studied Fine and applied arts at The Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria specialising in sculpture and ceramics.
How did your journey with clay/ceramics start?
I fell in love with the versatility of clay as a student and was fascinated by how much is possible within in the medium. I was prolific as a student and made many pieces, some more successful than others. I often stayed in the studio late at night and on weekends because I was obsessed with an idea or a piece that I just had to make.
What do you love about the medium and what frustrates you?
Working with clay is very freeing, you can make just about any form with it and because of this, I decided that I want to learn as much about it as possible. This has come with many trials and errors but I’m always happy with the learning experience. I purposefully take on difficult projects as challenges to myself, which always seem like a good idea before and after the projects, but causes some frustration during the execution. I’ve learned that frustration is where innovation comes from, and so I am trying to embrace it.
I also love that I can decide to change direction at any point and create different forms and works and I am not restricted because of all the knowledge I’ve gained through the years.
Typical studio day?
I arrive at the studio, put on some music, dance and sing while I clean. I then work on some commission work and get to my own exploration of the medium later in the day. I love to play around and I often make many things that I don’t share with anyone as they are just my own processes and creations.
How do you keep things fresh with pottery growing as a trend?
Pottery is always trending, and I think we’re just more aware of it now as it is such an accessible medium and it’s easy to make a quick video to share with others. I also offer classes and workshops in Johannesburg and Cape Town and I love teaching, I’m always learning from my students and the more it trends the more fresh ideas come through the studios that I work in. I really enjoy seeing what my students make and what draws them to the medium.
Where do you look for ideas/inspirations?
I get inspiration from all over. My students, fellow ceramists and the many excellent mentors I’ve had over the years. I enjoy bringing humour and colour into my work and I’m often inspired by artists who do the same. I also find inspiration in the cities where I’ve lived. Some ideas come to me when I’m about to fall asleep and I write those down quickly. Because of this, I have many notes and notebooks with ideas that I’m just waiting to take on.
I’m currently looking to open up my own studio in Johannesburg for teaching, making and collaborating with artists and I’m hoping to then be able to make all the things I’ve imagined and scribbled down late at night.