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Five minutes with Valissa Butterworth

We take five minutes to chat with ceramic artist and designer, Valissa Butterworth.

Five minutes with Valissa Butterworth


August 7th, 2015

Name: Valissa Butterworth

Occupation: Ceramic Artist /Designer

Location: Wangaratta

Company: Oxley Butterworth / The mod Collective

Position: Designer / Maker

The moment you knew you wanted to work in the design industry.
I undertook a short course in Ceramics while working as a Landscape designer, this lead to a Diploma in Ceramics and eventually a Degree in Fine Art. While studying the Diploma at Tafe I became entrenched in the world of ceramics. It wasn’t until I reached RMIT and spent time in the Sial lab in my final year that I realised I was completely fascinated with the Design Industry, Architecture and object design in particular.

How did you come to be an Ceramicist? What first drew you to the practice?
I initially undertook the night course at Tafe to gain the skills to produce a range of 3D wall tiles and panels. This led to a love of clay and its inherent properties, it has so many applications. The field is extremely diverse and this is what appealed to me.

What interests you most about this particular field design?
I am particularly interested in mixed media projects at present and my experimentation is leaning towards integrating other materials and technologies with clay bodies.

What has your experience with education design been?
I was particularly fortunate in my final year at RMIT to have a course coordinator that supported my desire to learn 3d design software. Although not all of my lecturers agreed with my choices or engaged with my projects the people I had the good fortune to learn from in the Architecture and design faculties were very patient and extremely knowledgeable. The most influential projects in my studies were undertaken in the Sculpture studios and Sial lab, learning other skills to broaden my knowledge of design is and will remain one of the most important factors in my practice. To this end my time spent at RMIT was a very influential period in my life.

The most unusual/interesting thing about the way you work.
I work in a studio on my fathers farm in regional victoria, with a tractor and other assorted equipment. I have 3 very small children so I work mainly at night, normally until midnight. I don’t have one of those very neat and ordered studios you see in the glossies, its chaos. Hence there is never any images of it….anywhere.

Which items in the workplace can you not live without?
Kiln, Computer, wood heater….

What have been your favourite three products this year?
The Kami Cabinet by Timber lab furniture, Real love for this piece of furniture. Phil Stokes has produced a new piece that is cast from antlers that is really quite stunning. Light sculptures by Niamh Barry.

Your top influences.
Architecture modelling software, and so, experimental architecture. Artisans blending their skills with technology to create contemporary works.

Favourite material.
Leather and glass at present.

Biggest career moment.
They’re all great, I love what I do.

Concern for the design industry in the coming decade.
Mass production and the diminishing ability to produce small batch designs at affordable costs due to rising overheads and off shore production.

Dream person to collaborate with.
Im very process driven so Id love to spend a while in the studios of Geoffrey Mann.

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