Lara Scobie | Q&A. Don't just do the sensible thing!

Lara in the studio
We asked Lara Scobie some questions about her life, work and working process in ceramics.

CCC: How do you describe yourself when telling people what you do? 
Ceramic Artist.
CCC: How did you come to be doing what you’re doing?
I had a fantastic pottery teacher at school, it was the first subject I really engaged with. I would often be in the pottery long after the school day had finished. I went on to complete a degree in ceramics at Camberwell College of Arts and Crafts in London and after that, I completed a postgraduate diploma at Edinburgh College of Art. I love making, it is the one thing in life that I feel completely absorbed in. It's also the one thing I feel in control of and that I can do well.

CCC:  How would you describe your process?
LS: I am an intuitive maker and don't really plan too much what I am going to do. I always work on a few pieces at the same time allowing for resting when I'm unsure about what to do next with a particular piece. My day usually starts with casting a number of pieces. I find this part of my day calming as I methodically fill and empty, giving me time to arrive and set the direction for the day. I make my work using the process of casting where slip (liquid clay) is poured into plaster moulds to produce forms that I then decorate with a combination of marks including incised drawing into the soft surface and sgraffito through coloured underglaze.

CCC: What is the relationship between pattern making and form? 
LS: To me, it is about finding a way for the two elements to sit in unison together, it is about scale.

CCC: What is your relationship with colour? 
LS: I was never very confident with colour and initially avoided using it, making all my work monochrome but gradually I have introduced colour, I would say it's been small steps and I only explore one colour addition at a time. It's important to me that the colours all work cohesively together, this allows for groupings of work to evolve, where works can be set in conversational families.

CCC: What has been a seminal/inspirational moment?LS: A seminal moment for me was the day I decided to give up teaching. It was both scary and exciting, scary to be giving up a secure salaried position with a pension but so exciting to do what I really wanted to do and not just do the sensible thing!

CCC: How has your practice changed over time?
LS: I've done a bit of everything! Much of my degree show was thrown, and I hand-build for my post-graduate show and now I slip-cast and hand-build. I think I have always changed my process to achieve the desired quality for my ideas at the time.

CCC: How does working with clay influence your life beyond the workshop?
LS: Well, this sounds a bit corny but now that I am fully earning my living from working in clay it has become my life! I used to work a very structured week when I taught at Duncan of Jordanstone Art College, my evenings and weekends were my own and I had clear boundaries around work and play. Now, I'm up and down to the studio at all times of the day, often working many weekends. I work far more hours than I ever did but I don't think about it, I don't watch the clock, I just do what's required to get the results.

CCC: What aspect of your work inspires you the most?
LS: Making, I find ideas come to me quickly when I’m absorbed in the making process. When I'm in the zone, my hands seem instinctively know what to do and my mind seems open to new ideas. This is the time when ideas come to me. A blank sheet of paper has always been paralysing for my creative flow.
Image: Dee Honeybun

CCC: At what point is it most enjoyable? 
LS: About mid-way through, the clay is still leather-hard and I’ve found a rhythm in the decorating, I’ve made a start and have committed to a design and I have a clear path for completion but I can still alter things if required. The clay at this stage is particularly fragile and it must be handled with great care, you cannot lose concentration and one careless move could end in disaster. But it is a time of great anticipation, when the work eventually goes in the kiln and the doors are closed for the firing and only when the doors are opened after many hours will the true result be known.
CCCWhat are you most proud of professionally?
LS: Making work for as long as I have, for sticking at it and bouncing back when challenges can feel overwhelming.

Lara Scobie. June 2019.

Photographs of ceramic work by Shannon Tofts.

Current Exhibition
Poise & Parallax | Lara Scobie  30 May–22 June


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