We’re a last minute town…and this year has gone so quickly, you’re forgiven if you…
Richilde Flavell was immersed in her work as I walked up the path to her studio.
Her hands were covered in clay, busy throwing a new bowl on her potter’s wheel. Her studio, Girl Nomad Ceramics, is filled with mugs, plates and bowls in various stages of production.
“This time of year is busiest for us,” Richilde explains, washing the clay off her hands. “We have lots of markets coming up, along with the open studio for the DESIGN Canberra festival. I’m also still teaching classes.”
The Girl Nomad Ceramics studio has a beautiful rustic feel, situated in the Strathnairn Arts Association in Holt. While construction carries on around the property, Strathnairn manages to maintain an idyllic and rural atmosphere, with uninterrupted views of the paddocks out the back of the main building.
“I love working here, in a space with other artists. I prefer working in a collaborative space. I don’t think I would want to work somewhere on my own, without being able to get a cup of tea and have a chat with other people.”
Before bringing her studio to Strathnairn, Richilde worked from the Canberra Pottery Society in the Watson Arts Centre. It was there that she set to work establishing her tableware and homewares design business, Girl Nomad Ceramics, which quickly went from strength to strength.
Her pieces are now stocked in stores across Canberra and interstate, including in the Australian National Gallery store, and the Australian Design Centre’s Object Shop in Sydney.
After feeding the horses, Richilde takes me to see the electric kiln she uses to fire her pieces. Inside, there are mugs, plates and serving bowls packed and ready to be bisque fired.
“I always tell people I make sister pieces, not twins. Each piece is slightly different, which I like.”
While they aren’t glazed yet, each piece will eventually reflect Richilde’s distinctive style—glazed in light hues, speckled across the surface, minimalist and delicate. I ask her what inspires her unique aesthetic.
“In terms of my style, I’m drawn to the concept of breathing in, like the bowl or mug has taken a breath and is holding on to that lightness. It’s about creating a sense of fullness which is rustic yet beautiful.”
Her ceramic platter (feature image), in Girl Nomad’s distinctive style, is part of the upcoming DESIGN Canberra online auction.
“I love that DESIGN Canberra connects the design community and brings more exposure to artists and designers. It’s great to have the opportunity to meet creators from other disciplines, but the festival also brings design to the broader community as well.”
We head back towards Richilde’s studio, discussing her role as a teacher and her work in the pottery community. She works Monday to Friday on Girl Nomad Ceramics, and in the evenings, she teaches classes to beginners and more seasoned artists.
“Most people come to my introductory classes because they want to relax and unwind. I try to teach my students to have fun with it. One thing I had to learn, and the advice which I give to all my students, is that it helps to let go of your fear of failure. Don’t be afraid to give it a go and potentially fail. If I hadn’t learnt that before I started pottery, I think would have found it much more challenging.”
We wrap up our conversation so Richilde can continue designing pieces for her open studio during the DESIGN Canberra Festival.
“I’ll see you at the events – make sure you come past the studio,” she says, before immersing herself back into her work.
The Utopia online auction runs from Friday 1 November to Friday 8 November.
Come along and celebrate the opening weekend of the Design Canberra festival, and meet the auction designers like Richilde Flavell—get your tickets now to the Utopia: Design Canberra launch party on Friday 8 November here.
HerCanberra is a proud media partner of DESIGN Canberra 2019.