in the studio with angela butler

Angela Butler trained in printmaking at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW. After transitioning into creating handmade ceramics, Angela now creates one-off functional ceramics from porcelain and stoneware clays. Always experimenting, Angela's works are each unique expressions of her love of beautiful objects. Angela was a finalist in the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize 2017 and exhibits her artwork throughout Sydney. Angela works at Sydney studio experimental ceramics studio. Recently we caught up with Angela to see how her routine has changed since she moved her studio to her home. 

1. What’s your new routine like? 

I have a part time job in health, so I go to work every day as normal, but I start a little earlier these days. It means I'm home early afternoon and have more hours free for ceramics. The actual making doesn't happen every day, sometimes I'm just spent, so I relax and eat and potter around in the garden. 

I must say that the reduced space (and reduced potential for chaos) has made me think differently about materials and storage, and about what I'm making. I'm considering how to pack greenware into the car to get it to the kilns, and whether what I'm making is worth that effort. I'm making deliberate choices and plans which is new for me. Where I usually have functional objects and sculptural objects and in-between objects all happening in the same space, I've pared it back to functional work for now. It's methodical, repetitive, achievable work. I'm sure as we settle in to this a bit more I'll get back to my experiments. For now, I'm enjoying the peace of making only one or two forms. 

2. How are you keeping in touch with other makers?
I'm probably on social media more often than I was before. Seeing that our community is still sharing and talking makes me feel happy. Most of my friends are makers, and everyone I know has cobbled together some sort of home studio. From ceramicists, painters, and textile artists, to musicians, designers and writers, we're all finding a way. Thank you to families and flatmates of artists for sharing your kitchen tables and snacks!

To be honest having my work in my home space is a different but not unwelcome way of working. Usually there are people around in other studios which does have its own challenges. I need space in every sense of the word to work at the moment. Normally I love/hate being interrupted with different ideas and energies, so for now I'm really appreciating the changed atmosphere of my front porch space. I'm sure I'll get lonely soon. If I do I'll suggest a few zoom crits perhaps! But really it's a great opportunity to turn in and draw up from the inside. 

3. What are you doing to practice self-care during this time?
  • Showers, tea, hugs. 
  • Laundry. 
  • Music! I've listened to more music of late. It's lovely. 
  • Nurturing plants. 
  • Digging up the ground with a pick axe and pulling out weeds by hand. Sometimes you just need to hack into something. 
  • Walking to work and back. And then making the house people go out for exercise with me. 
4. What’s your favourite at home handmade ceramic? 
My own cups! We've been making coffee at home instead of buying takeaways so I'm using my own stuff and learning what I like and don't like. And what others like. It's nice to know there's no one universal ideal. I have a pile of seconds bowls too that are getting lots of use. It's made me consider use and aesthetics as part of a daily prop to life; what features in my world is more apparent to me as the world becomes smaller. There's less distraction and less choice, which I like. 

5. What are you most looking forward to when the pandemic is over?
Oh my goodness, eating with friends. Meeting in the park and sitting together eating snacks and talking. Also hugging my sisters. And birthdays. I miss birthdays.