In her lovely backyard in Canberra where she works out of her home studio Georgie tells me that her ceramics studio, Linburn Handmade, is about providing functional, domestic ware that is contemporary, earthy and honest.
“My focus has always been that ceramics can be beautiful but it is also really useful. I like that clay is so everyday and functional. It’s practical, and what I want to give people is something that looks good and that they can use all the time,” she says.
“I wouldn’t say my pots are heavy and hefty, but there is a strength there, without them being too fine, I always try to balance beauty and function,” she says.
Turning her ceramics practice into a business was an organic process. After moving to Canberra for work she took up a pottery class at the Watson Arts Centre. She was struck and developed a passion for pottery which soon saw her working with a production potter before embarking on her own business venture.
“I quite enjoy getting the detail right, the size and the form, which you need to do if you’re going to do production pottery,” she says, telling me that it becomes quite rhythmic over time.
The name, Linburn, is a nod to her childhood home near Mudgee, NSW, where she was surrounded by her mother’s cherished porcelain and learned to make things with her father.
“My dad is probably at the root of all this, unknowingly. He’s a really clever guy who can manufacture anything. He’s a farmer, and learned to build all sorts of buildings around New South Wales with his father when he was a young man. I couldn’t help but learn from them that I wanted to make beautiful and useful things.”
The location still features in her practice, as she has been known to dig clay from the area to use in her pots, “there’s some nice clay out that way,” she states and I can tell that this passion for good clay and fine pots runs deep, as her eyes light up as she speaks.
With a few large commissions in recent years it seems that interest in local, handmade ceramics is making a resurgence, something that could be related to a change in how food is thought about.
“Food has gone from being something that we eat, to something that we talk about, look at and photograph. It seems to be everywhere and – I would say this as a potter,” she laughs, “but it seems that the natural progression is to ask, ‘if we care about what we’re eating, what are we eating it off?’ It could sit anywhere along the spectrum of being something mass produced overseas or handmade locally”
I agree and we talk about how the slow food movement seems to have instigated a slow-made movement and we laugh over how this has almost intersected in our very plates as handmade ceramics merges with locally and mindfully produced food in our restaurants and cafes. It appears that Georgie’s work is an allegory for our times.
Canberra’s dining scene is replete with passionate foodies, something which resonates with Georgie as she matches her passion with theirs and has no problem meeting their creative ideas with their own to come up with the perfect, unique solution for their tableware.
“The creative process is kind of fun. There’s a hunt for the right design, the right glaze and how it’s going to look.
I’ve stood in cool rooms with chefs, looking at pork knuckles, to understand what is going to go on the plate. They are all about the food being right and I’m all about the plate being right and then we have an overlap where we have to be right together which is not just technical, it’s got to be affordable, I’ve got to be able to reproduce it, it’s got to be attractive and it has to make sense with the food.
“It’s like a puzzle and I enjoy working with others and challenging myself as well.”
In the end, she says, “It’s sheer delight when I wander past one of the restaurants where my plates are and see people having a nice time, maybe not everyone is thinking about the plates, but it’s all part of the picture.”