Get creative at home with north coast potter Lauren Campbell
Quitting your day job to pursue a passion is easier said than done. Lauren Campbell was working an office job in Sydney when she realised she could no longer ignore the creativity bubbling up inside. She now resides in the hills behind Byron Bay with her pup Nippa, where she makes unique ceramic pieces featuring vibrant, glossy drip glazes under the name Sit Still Lauren. There have been some major setbacks along the way, but Lauren says the support of her community has kept her going. Now, she’s sharing her love of mud manipulation with clay kits that will keep your hands busy at home.
Coastbeat: Hi Lauren! Where do you live and why is it special?
I live in the beautiful rural town of Eltham, in the hills behind Byron Bay. It’s such a special place. I’m surrounded by rolling green hills and cows. The location lends itself to waterfalls, beaches and bountiful nature, giving this humble potter the space to breathe in the fresh air and soak up all that Mother Nature lovingly provides.
Coastbeat: Do you feel like you’ve found “home” on the north coast? Or is home elsewhere?
Home is definitely amongst the hills for now. Walking into my little country Queenslander feels like a warm hug. I won’t say that this is my forever home – anything could happen in the years to come – but for now, today and for me, she’s the sweetest place in the world.
Coastbeat: Can you pinpoint three events or encounters that nudged you towards your current profession as a potter/mud manipulator?
1. Once upon a time I was working in Sydney, marching off to my financial office job each day. I very unhappy. It was something my dad said that gave me a wake-up call and changed my career trajectory.
3. In the 2017 Lismore floods, I lost my studio (Lauren’s two kilns, caravan, materials and equipment were all badly damaged). The support and encouragement I received from the community was unbelievable and that certainly kept me going.
Coastbeat: What does a week in the life of Lauren look like?
Honestly it varies. I’ve never been great at a tight or strict schedule. Sometimes it’s a full week in the studio and other times I’m in the office nutting out the business back-end. My week ALWAYS includes time in nature, swims, dog walks, good food and good humans.
Coastbeat: What did you have planned for 2020? Has COVID-19 changed those plans?
It’s been a massive time on this planet hasn’t it?! To be honest my life hasn’t changed exponentially, and I feel so incredibly grateful for that. I still sit in my studio, making the clay things, dreaming up new colours to play with. Exhibition plans have been put on hold for the time being, but it’s been a great time to develop fresh ideas and disperse old ones. A clearing out, so to speak. One thing we (my interns and I) have decided to offer is ‘At Home Clay Kits’ and live tutorials. Creating a little at-home clay community has been a blast!
Coastbeat: Tell me more about these kits?
The kits have been a great way to get hands on clay all over the county. A lot of people are finding they finally have the time and space to create little handmade things – small treats that can be expanded into daily at-home practices! The kits include clay, tools, some valuable web links, plus instructions. I’m also hosting online video tutorials twice a week.
Coastbeat: You’re wonderfully optimistic, Lauren! Any final words of wisdom?
Watching this world transform under these extraordinary circumstances has been amazing. As challenging as it may be for so many – moving through the grit of it all – I am so looking forward to seeing what comes out the other side. And I’ll leave things on a beautiful note with a quote by Cathy Malchiodi that’s so apt for these times: “When words are not enough, we turn to images and symbols. And in telling our stories through art, we find pathways to wellness, recovery and transformation.”
If you’d like to get your hands dirty at home, you can buy a clay kit from Lauren’s website. Sit Still Lauren ceramics sell like hotcakes, so keep an eye on Instagram to find out when Lauren’s next batch is available for purchase.
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