Workshop || Q&A with Peta Berghofer
A little about you – where are you from, uni, previous work:
I'm a local gal through and through. I did all of my schooling here in Toowoomba, with four years at the University of Southern Queensland fresh out of Grade 12. At the beginning I thought I would have built my practice in painting - ceramics was kind of a curve ball. It was the one discipline that just clicked, so I went on to complete my honours year in 2016 to focus solely on ceramics. Since then I've been continuing to make ceramics and build my practice at First Coat Studios - what a dream!
Talk about your practice:
My practice sits within dialogues of visual art, craft and design, exploring both functional and sculptural objects. At their foundation, these objects highlight the handmade and become an extension of myself, recording movement and intention of process.
My sculptural forms aim to push the boundaries of my functional collections. These sculptures take domestic forms and alter their function by playing with shape and surface treatments. These objects suggest a response to the status of the clay object and its place in contemporary art. Lately, I have been working to bring these two sides of my practice together through installation. By appropriating the plinth, I aim to create abstract, still-life environments that simultaneously speak to both domestic and gallery spaces.
What is the best part about working with ceramics?
Ceramics has its ups and its downs - when it's good it's REALLY good and when it's bad it can be pretty sole crushing. My favourite part of the process is a cliché as it gets - the malleability of clay. You can start will a block of squishy stuff and form it into something brand new. Nothing makes me happier than moving and playing with clay. I get to create weird, imperfect little forms that capture a moment and process in time.
What do you take inspiration from?
I take inspiration from domestic, everyday moments and objects. This could be dirty plates stacked on a kitchen sink or a colour palette from a t-shirt or building. It's finding the beauty in the imperfect or the overlooked.
Artists that inspire you:
I take inspiration from a few artists for a few different reasons. When I think about functional ceramics I take inspiration from the likes of Chela Edmunds (Takeawai), James Lemon, Holly MacDonald and Leah Jackson. I was particularly interested in these ceramicists during university for both their impressive technical and business skills.
These days I'm heavily drooling over work by sculptural ceramicists such as Nicolette Johnson, Alexandra Standen, Linda Lopez, Claire Johnson and modern and contemporary art legend Betty Woodman.
I'm REALLY obsessed with artists who are showing us how it's done locally. We are surrounded by so much talent here in Toowoomba - I'm lucky to have some pretty impressive role models who are kicking goals both nationally and internationally.