BoHome: We Are Family
To celebrate Mama’s Day, we met up with mother and daughter duo Mieke and Charlie De Deyne. Together they create beautiful ceramics and have recently opened up a new a concept studio in Newstead, Brisbane called ‘The Ceramic House’.
Charlie De Deyne
Tell me what you do:
I’m a ceramic artist. Recently my mother and I have opened up Mas & Miek Ceramic House in Brisbane. It’s a place for learning, purchasing, reading about and appreciating ceramics.
I know your mother Mieke passed along her knowledge and love of ceramics to you. How did it all begin? Tell me about the process.
It all started 15 years ago when my dad bought my mum a pottery wheel for her 40th birthday. We always joke that that day he created a monster. She become obsessed, and eventually her ceramic practise took over her painting studio with another wheel, a kiln, another kiln. etc. And that obsession has been passed down to me I guess. I have always been playing in the studio with my mum from a young age, so its hard to say how long I have been into clay. But it’s only in the last 5 years or so that I have been taking it seriously.
It’s not hard to notice that Mieke and yourself share a pretty special relationship. How do you find working with your mum?
Well not only are we very close, we’re very similar. I love working with her because we have the exactly the same temperament. We’re never grumpy for long and can always poke each other out of a bad mood (or into one I might add!) I feel very fortunate to have my mum as my business partner because she knows me better than anyone else, and always has my best interests at heart. Thats the beauty of family businesses I guess, we’re really in it together.
And it’s not just Mieke who is creative. Tell me about the rest of your family. I would imagine it would be inspiring, being surrounded by creatives your whole life.
It’s safe to say we have a very eccentric family! Each member has their outlet in painting, sculpture, music or another creative practice. But its not only the individual outlets we each enjoy but how we live creatively as a family. We always strive to live a creative life. Things like cooking big family dinner with lots of wine, the eclectic objects we decorate our home with, family outings together, etc. I think that is very important.
You have quite beautifully described the art of ceramics to me before. You describe it as a kind of process. Can you elaborate for me.
Well ceramics is a process orientated craft. My mum always said that clay was her teacher, and above all, it taught her patience. Each piece needs to undergo certain drying, firing and glazing processes in order to be finished. You can never rush through a vital step in ceramics or your piece simply wont survive. I can’t help but feel thats why so many people are drawn to the craft. They know that to create a bowl for example, it will take time to slowly work and pinch out the clay. With things moving so fast in modern society, with technology and fast cars – people are craving that time to slow down. To turn off their phones, zone out and get creative. Its a wonderful meditation that a lot of people need.
Describe your style of art. Where do you seek design inspiration?
A lot of our inspiration comes from the experimentation and science within glazing. We love to play with elemental chance, as we never know what we will open a kiln to. A slight alteration on our glaze recipe or change in temperature can splash unexpected colours and effects over a glaze, and we are constantly chasing that.
You have spoken to me about the recent opening of The Ceramic House and how you and wanted to create a new concept of a open-learning studio. What do you mean by that?
We wished to create a studio that was open to every one. Not only open to all levels, but open to all different personal timetables. We found that people in the city often struggled to commit to a set curriculum with reoccurring weekly classes, because they worked fill time, or shift work, or were students, etc. Our online booking app allows complete freedom to our students to book in whenever they choose. All the sessions are open to all levels, as we constantly see the endless benefit of having different levels of clay workers practising together in a shared space bouncing around ideas and sharing knowledge or inspiration.
All clothing by Tree of Life
Interview and photographs by Billie Edwards