Mardie Whitla

Mardie Whitla

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Mardie Whitla, handbuilt ceramics
Safely Wrapped and Ready to Go, 21x17x9cm. Wabi-sabi alternative vase
Mandarin Isthmus, round platter 29cm in diameter, 4cm in depth
Evening Dress Lights Up the Wall, 21x28x6cm. Can be hung on an exterior wall with a small candle behind the eyes

Many years ago whilst studying psychology at Monash University, I discovered their large pottery studio on campus. My children were very young then. I found playing with clay once a week for a few hours to be a wonderful way to unwind and relax.  Art Therapy I called it. 

How did it start?

I started off by learning wheel throwing. This resulted in so-called “functional ware”. Eventually I found, however, that there are just so many brownish glazed mugs, bowls and pots one person needs to “function”.

My friend built me a backyard pottery shed and I bought an old heavy stone pottery wheel. I operated it by pushing the wooden frame backwards and forwards with my foot. 

We took some of the pots up to the country. There we made a hole in the earth and managed a raw earthy firing, raku style.

Later I moved house, leaving the heavy wheel behind. Simultaneously I was working longer psychologist hours whilst studying criminology at the University of Melbourne. There was no time for a pottery hobby.

My inspiration

Years passed. I went to Italy, initially to learn their language. I was hooked. My academic studies expanded my Italian-Australian connections. 

I became close to an extended Italian family in Tuscany. They introduced me to their artistic friends and colleagues, with frequent visits to a professional ceramics studio and invitations to a range of art exhibitions. Wonderful Italian hospitality and artistic endeavours inspired and galvanised my creativity.

Wabi-sabi

I became more interested in hand building and exploring creative uses of clay, glazes and textures. This did not include throwing pots. My current works are more in line with the Japanese philosophy of imperfection, wabi-sabi or rustic simplicity.

What now?

Annually I travel widely in this classic picturesque country of Italy, exploring ideas offering creative and expressive potential.  I also expanded my dreams. For thirteen years my company, Ciao Bella Tours, enjoyed sharing Italy with travellers also keen to appreciate Italian food, wine and art culture.  

My ceramics works have been commissioned, displayed and purchased in Italy and Australia. I am now expanding my travels and inspirations to other countries.

My personal education in ceramics also continues. I enjoy participating in and learning from a weekly ceramics group, BAG, in Beaumaris, Melbourne.