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James Shaw is the man behind Lemons Ceramics. You might’ve picked up one of his creations at Junior Space and wondered the meaning behind the message: No Cup. We caught up with the self-taught ceramicist in his (delightful) Coburg studio to find out more about his work.
As a self-trained ceramicist, what first got you curious about clay?
I’d been interested in potentially making ceramics for a while before I was taught the basics. After that I just kind of ran with it. I’m very conscious of texture so the tactile nature of clay and fired ceramics is part of why I enjoy it so much and probably lead me to pursue it further.
It sounds like you’ve learnt a lot from finding your way yourself – tell us a bit about your practice.
At the moment my practice is about producing quality and interesting work that I end up feeling like I’ve contributed a good object to the world. I like to produce organic and simple shapes – forms that make you want to touch them.
I’m also finding a lot of freedom while hand building lately which is informing my sculptural output, so I’m quite excited to use some of that energy and curiosity in my upcoming work.
When making cups do you think about the relationship between being decorative and functional? Do you consider how you would like someone to use them?
I think that a well designed object is something that ticks both boxes. So I’ve got to make sure a cup is doing it’s “cup job”, but what I also enjoy is being able to contribute something beautiful to people’s everyday lives. If can make sure I’m doing both then I’ll be happy with myself.
As long as the cup is used, I’m content.
You have some idea of how you want your work appreciated, but I’ve realised what I like about my work is often different to what others do so I’ve learned to love multiple interpretations.
Tell us a little bit about the meaning behind your ‘No Cups’.
[For me] ‘No cups’ are a commentary on consent. I think that message can be quite a handful, like it is just a cup. But I think the charm of them is that they aren’t necessarily about that. People can apply their own meanings however they like and I like that it has a lot of utility to people, you can relate and respond in your own way – it’s inclusive, and that’s really important to me.
How does Melbourne support your practice?
Melbourne is quite special; I don’t think I would be making pottery if it weren’t for the community here.
People appreciate and support art and ceramics and good design. That encouragement and excitement is driving people like myself to get out of bed to learn and make things, which is perfect.
Lemons Ceramics ceramic works and ‘No Cups’ are available in-store and online from $44 – SHOP LEMONS CERAMICS