WORKING with clay centres Kara Wood, and the ceramicist says the effect it has on her students can be powerful.
“The biggest benefit is that it calms you, it teaches you to be patient and it puts you in touch with your feelings,” says Wood, adding that tears are not uncommon in her Tighes Hill studio.
“It’s meditation with your hands and downtime that people don’t get anywhere else. It brings a sense of community – people that come here create friendships.”
Ms Wood was 25 when she first worked with clay under the tutelage of local Wayne Ferguson.
She was quickly hooked on the tactile nature of the pursuit, but with two young children, and a third around the corner, she couldn’t get her hands dirty as often as she would have liked.
Eventually she did a ceramics course at the Hunter Art School before trying to “make it” as a full-time potter, only to find it was a financial struggle while juggling motherhood.
“I found another job, but I never quite gave it up,” she says of the art.
Three years ago Wood was working as a chief operating officer for a local manufacturing firm when she realised she was miserable and resigned. On the advice of her friend and fellow ceramicist Sue Stewart, Wood began teaching her craft in a small home studio in Broadmeadow and had so many enquiries she moved to a shop in Adamstown.
When demand continued she was offered a larger space at the Newcastle Community Arts Centre at Tighes Hill TAFE campus, where she has been operating since March, 2017.
Wood runs a range of workshops for adults and children, teaching the basics including slab work, coiling, pinch pots and learning to “throw” or work their clay on a wheel. While a ceramicist may make working with clay look easy, many students are surprised they are not immediately awesome at it.
“I simply say what they make is organic and not perfect and they have to embrace that,” Wood says, adding that while some people found artistic pursuits such as drawing intimidating, they usually found pottery more accessible.”