Sylvester Sessions #79

Sylvester Sessions

Holly Houston

Auckland, New Zealand

Tell us about what you do.

I run my own small pottery business. I make every piece by hand in my small little studio, which is right next to Little & Friday so I get coffee on tap.

When did you begin working with ceramics and how did that happen?

I had been doing part time art classes when my daughter was little. I did a sculpture course with Harriet Stockman, and I just wanted to make plates and functional tableware. Harriet wrote down on a scrap of paper all the materials I would need to get started and where to source everything. I set up a little table in my front room with a view of the sea and got to work, watched tonnes of tutorials on youtube and begged other local potters to let me borrow some space in their kilns.

How has your practice evolved over time, have you always worked with the same materials?

At this point in time, I mostly just work hard to meet the demand for my black sand tableware range. I actually love the repetitive, meditative task of making the same pieces each day, and I believe it's the quickest route to mastery. What excites me the most for the future though is making more considered one off sculptural pieces and vessels, which I'm beginning to explore at the moment.

What is your favourite thing about what you do?

I love the flexibility and freedom of working for myself. Everyday my boyfriend and I get to drop our daughter to kindergarten together and see her artwork and her new monkey bar skills, which is a rarity that not many parents get to enjoy together. I wag work some hot afternoons for a swim down the road. I also love being able to plan projects and collaborations and getting to work with so many clever people on such a regular basis.

What are your main sources of inspiration?

At the moment I love Flemish and Dutch still life paintings, as well as ancient vessels and objects.

What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?

All day long I listen to podcasts and audiobooks in the studio, some of my favourite podcasts at the moment are Pod Save America, missing Richard Simmons, Heavyweight, and On Being with Krista Tippet.

What is your favourite thing about where you live?

The beach, the beach, the beach. It almost makes the terrible traffic worth it.

Place you are happiest?

Floating at Cheltenham Beach.

Interview and photography by Olivia Renouf.