Fifteen local pottery studios will soon open their doors and reveal their latest ceramic art creations for the 10th Anniversary North Coast Mud Trail, recently launched at Ignite Studios in Ballina.
Jacqui Sosnowski is the vice-president of Northern Rivers Ceramics and coordinator of the Mud Trail, which will be taking place across the region on the weekend of 13-14 August, free of charge. She spoke to The Echo at the launch.
With last year’s Mud Trail being postponed at the last minute due to COVID, this time there will be more potters and works on display than ever, even though the contributors have faced new challenges. ‘Yeah, there’s been a few issues!’ Ms Sosnowski said.
‘Some of the studios got flooded, and there’s been huge supply issues with getting clay and glazes and all that sort of stuff because of COVID.’
What can people expect?
Jacqui Sosnowski’s own studio SOS Ceramics is on the 2022 Mud Trail at No.6 (in Mullumbimby).
She said the worst thing about that was not being able to visit everyone else on the day. Fortunately that won’t be a problem for most people.
This year, as well as the Mud Trail drop-in locations, where pottery fans can visit the creators and see the work of seventeen of the region’s finest ceramic artisans at any time over the weekend from 10am-4pm, there will be scheduled demonstrations, artist talks and workshops.
‘That’s a great way to add value to the Mud Trail experience,’ said Ms Sosnowski. ‘You can timetable your day to fit in a demonstration you want to see. For instance, I’m doing I’m doing a couple of obvara fairings, which are really exciting to watch.
‘Obvara means boiled, in Russian. So it’s a 12th century Baltic technique, where you use flour, water and yeast to burn into the pots to make markings. You take the pot from the kiln, and you dunk it in the flour and water brew. It just happens in front of your eyes,’ she said.
‘It’s very serendipitous!’
Getting out there
Ms Sosnowski says exploring the Mud Trail is also a great way to see the hinterland of the Northern Rivers in all its geographic diversity.
‘We should get real estate agents to sponsor us! It’s a really good way to get to know the area, because you go to places that you’ve never been to before.’
This year’s Mud Trail locations range from west of Ballina right up to the Tweed.
Speaking of Ballina, this year’s launch location at Ignite Studios is part of Northern Rivers Community Gallery, which is about to start a community ceramics studio.
‘We’re forming a really lovely partnership with them,’ said Ms Sosnowski.
‘They’ve got six wheels in there and two kilns and all sorts of stuff. So we’re hoping to mesh together a lot more in the coming years and run workshops and master classes.’
Connecting people with pots
The president of Northern Rivers Ceramics is Suvira McDonald. He told The Echo the Mud Trail is special every year. ‘It has momentum that we can’t stop anymore. It’s just getting better and better, and more and more well known.’
Mr McDonald said there were a mix of established names and new potters joining the trail in 2022. Newcomers include Carly Pascoe and Hayden Youlley (who share a studio) as well as Gudrun Clix.
Speaking as a founding member of the local ceramic tribe, Mr McDonald said the organisers were ‘really in there for the long haul.’
As an active artisan himself (Studio Suvira is No.5 on the Mud Trail) Mr McDonald said he regards it as a life highlight to have all the visitors come to his studio and see what he’s creating.
He said it would be wonderful for all the potters on the trail to be able to engage with the public again after a very difficult couple of years.
Speaking of the 2022 floods Mr McDonald said, ‘Everyone has been affected who lives in our community. Across the whole region, everyone has been affected by the despondency and the sense of urgency about rejuvenating the place.
‘It’s phenomenal. But you know, we’re resilient.’
Coming back to life
Suvira McDonald said the ceramics community have been focusing on getting their studios alive again. ‘It’s what makes us thrive, the creative urge.’
Jacqui Sosnowski agreed, adding ‘The Northern Rivers is famous for the amount of creatives per capita, and the arts have contributed a lot to the resilience after the flood.’
For a once-a-year opportunity to connect with local people who make wonderful earthy objects, and see where the magic happens, don’t miss the 2022 North Coast Mud Trail. You might even find something exciting to take home.
The major sponsors of the trail this year are Mud Australia.