News

Mooroopna potter still spinning the wheel

By John Lewis

Mooroopna ceramicist Kaye Poulton is renowned for her fine pottery and inspirational workshops. When COVID-19 arrived, her usual sales outlet of farmers’ markets, classes, galleries and festivals disappeared — but she hasn't stopped throwing clay on her potter's wheel to create her exquisite cups, plates and bowls. John Lewis talked to the teacher and creator about what keeps her going.

Kaye Poulton's pottery shed is packed with cups, saucers, plates, mugs, figurines and clay.

She says it's her "happy place" where time disappears and the world shrinks to a potter's wheel and a lump of clay.

“This morning I spent a couple of hours throwing mugs and I really enjoyed that — it's repetitive, you can go into a trance-like state while you're doing it. It's a good thing to do — it's good for the soul,” she said.

Before COVID-19, Kaye would drive to farmers’ markets with boxes of her wares finely crafted in her Mooroopna studio. She would hold weekly classes for groups of mature students at her pottery shed, or workshops at SAM and Mooroopna Education and Activity Centre.

These days, she's on her own in her shed. But it hasn't stopped her creating.

“I'm still making pottery — I've wanted to make it. I really enjoy what I do and I'm really lucky I have my own studio set up where I love to go,” she said.

Kaye started creating with clay as a young mother more than 40 years ago. She snatched time in between changing nappies and cooking meals to create her own mugs and bowls for her family.

Kaye still spends hours every day shaping clay into useful and beautiful artefacts.

After taking pottery classes in Bendigo, her career as a professional ceramicist bloomed along with her reputation for producing practical and unique sets for the dinner table or quirky pieces for the lounge room.

Today, despite lockdowns and a shrinking market, you can still find Kaye at her potter's wheel.

“There aren't many days I don't spend in my workshop — that's where I usually end up being. Most days I spend about five hours there,” she said

“What has affected me is there's not as much capacity for me to sell — so I'm accumulating a fair bit of work.

“But when you make things you want them to go somewhere — you want them to have a home. You don't want to leave them in a box,” she said.

Kaye Poulton's unique mugs and tableware can be found in Shepparton restaurants and at SAM.

Kaye said the COVID-19 experience had meant more time to experiment and try new things.

“I've had more time to to spend on changing forms, or playing with shape and technique and ideas on how forms can be different,” she said.

Kaye has also had more time to develop her own website - www.kayepoultonceramics.com.au

Kaye said experimenting with clay was something anyone could do.

Kaye Poulton with ceramics she donated to a bushfire benefit concert at Colbinabbin in January this year.

“I've got a friend who lives on a farm who said she's surrounded by clay. She and her children got together to make things out of the clay around the farm, and we successfully fired them. So it just goes to show — sometimes these things force you to try something different.”

When restrictions ease, Kaye said she was looking forward to seeing her grandchildren, and packing up her work to take it around galleries, markets and shops once again.

“And having my students again, and to keep on making things — that's what I like to do,” she said.

She said anyone interested in finding out more about pottery could contact her through her website.

To hear a podcast of Kaye Poulton chatting to John Lewis go to www.sheppnews.com.au/podcasts