CO:LAB has been a very rewarding project providing mentorship and research opportunities to extend the scope of my art practice into the area of lighting design through the opportunity to work closely with architecture firm Light House and their clients to respond to a new build site. My response to the architectural and client brief was to source inspiration from ideas of local, sustainable and natural. Using porcelain for its strength, ability for translucency and versatility I developed two series of feature pendant lights and, in collaboration with fellow CO:LAB artists Alison Jackson and Dan Lorrimer, a table lamp.
In Leaf Print Series I capture the intricate detail of local endemic flora through considered placement of individual leaves and flowering stems on thin sheets of porcelain, before shaping into a pendant form. To retain the delicacy of the image the pressed plant is only removed by the firing process. The surface is polished, and the internal space glazed to reflect a colour alluding to features of each species. When the pendant is in use the subtlety of the pattern is revealed through the element of light. Australian plants and the environment is the focus of my art practice, and I was delighted to discover, through the process of making this series, an even greater attention and observation of individual leaf shape, line, form and texture.
The Burrawang Collection is a graphic black and white grouping of pendant lights referencing the Burrawang, a cycad familiar to Spotted Gum Forest in regional coastal habitat. In this case translucency in the porcelain is created by carving into the black surface coating of the wheel-thrown form. The cluster of pendants are a distinctive feature with or without light, more recognisable to my existing art practice.
The table lamp collaboration Sheoak Table Lamp was an exciting prospect, combining the materials of porcelain and bronze, and different skill sets and artistic approach. The local tree, Allocasuarina, or Sheoak, was chosen for its textural nature and possibilities for line and mark making based on its characteristic foliage. The porcelain lamp component has subtle relief texture of Sheoak branchlets and seedpods, created through resist and water erosion of the surface.
Project and Design Process
CO:LAB has been a very rewarding project providing mentorship and research opportunities to extend the scope of my art practice into the area of lighting design through the opportunity to work closely with architecture firm Light House and their clients to respond to a new build site.
The three key aspects to the project: architectural and client briefing; lighting design research; and studio research; enabled a directed immersion into the field.
During Phase One we met with the architectural team and clients, and visited designers, retailers and professionals in Canberra and Sydney to learn about their area of expertise in lighting design. It became evident from the client’s perspective and in the approach of Light House Architecture and Science, that efficient design is foremost, using warm neutral colours and the beauty and texture of natural materials. In consideration, my lighting design would complement or contrast with their choice and need to align with values of sustainability. An intense period of visits to specialist lighting design workshops, design retailers and makers expanded my horizons and knowledge about the world of industrial design, brand recognition, light engineering and interior design. An enormous and almost overwhelming field, it gave me insight into luxury design brands, marketing strategy and large-scale workshops, providing guidance and inspiration.
Phase Two of the project was a process of defining the parameters in which I might work, narrowing the scope and testing out initial ideas in the studio. As a crafts-based designer-maker, the brief was to bring together art, form and functionality to develop a bespoke small-batch lighting product. My aim was to combine the following elements: porcelain, local Australian plants and light. Through studio research I investigated materials and process, testing ideas through making and iterations of making. The initial design concepts were presented in a ‘reverse brief’.
The last phase was based in the studio, working to resolve and refine the design concepts into a final product. Leaf Print Series is a complementary grouping of pendant lights aligned with ideas of natural colours and materials. The endemic plants chosen for the subject are present in gardens and nature parks near to the build site, including Wedge-leaved Wattle, Hakea decurrens, Silver Banksia, Correa and Kurrajong. Burrawang Collection is in contrast to the client’s theme, a strong feature light and artwork. The collaborative work Sheoak Table Lamp was designed and made in a Covid-safe way, in other words, by phone, email and post. It has been an absolute pleasure working alongside artists, Alison Jackson and Dan Lorrimer throughout the project.
My arts practice is aligned with the sustainable values of the brief where I use recycling of materials, environmentally conscious waste systems and solar panels to generate energy to maintain studio equipment and kiln firing.
I warmly thank CraftACT: Craft + Design particularly Rachael and Kate in the initial stages of the project and Meagan and Madisyn in the later stage; and CraftACT Circle of Hands donor circle, Jenny Edwards, Peta Furnell, Graham Humphries and Paul Kerr for the opportunity.