In Conversation: Elishea Nicholson
If you were given the freedom to work in any medium - what would it be and why?
I love getting my hands messy, especially when it comes to ceramics. I find the practice meditative and I love the idea of moulding my pieces from what is essentially minerals, plant life, and animals - especially after pushing pixels on the computer at work.
I've always been interested in creating new from old and recently I've been experimenting with whittling, weaving and block printing from found wood. Being on the road has given me the freedom to try new things and I've been making the most of that. I don’t think I’ll ever limit myself to one medium, so who knows what I'll be working with next.
For HHCo you've worked on a coffee brewer, can you talk us through that process?
From the start of the project I knew that I wanted to create something stripped back and minimal. After experimenting with different clays and glazes over the years I've realised that I like it when the clay speaks for itself, hence why the pieces are glazed on the inside. Vulcan black stoneware is strong and lends itself well to sculpture, which is why I chose it for the slab-built cones and carafes. I also like how the intense brown-black colour of the clay mimics the coffee.
Could you talk us through when you started working with ceramics and how it is positioned for you within your practice?
Ceramics has always been a part of my life as my mum teaches it, but I first started working with ceramics whilst studying graphic design at Kingston University. I used various open studios around London, mainly at the weekends or in the evenings. Occasionally I’d get some time in between design contracts when I’d relish whole days spent in the studio.
At the moment I am working towards creating a balance in my life, so I can spread my time equally across the things I love doing. My partner and I love exploring methods of traditional craft and want to develop a deeper meaning of the everyday through travel and documentation, this is how our studio Everyday Objects was born.
How has the mobile nature of the studio at the moment affected your approach to your work and what do you hope to draw from it for your practice?
I feel like I’ve experimented more in the last year than I did in the 5 years prior to that. We’re currently traveling in a van that we converted ourselves and the limited space has forced me to rethink the way I work. I’ve had to use small tools that are easy to transport as well as methods that are effective when working on a camping table and chairs. I’ve essentially had to have a break from ceramics which at times has been hard, but despite this I feel like it has been a positive time for me. Not only have I been inspired by some talented Australian ceramic artists, but I’ve been exploring traditional methods of finding and firing clay. The sawdust kiln is something I can’t wait to try and I’m in conversation with some friends about building a primitive kiln on their land.
You lived in London for a while, can you name some of your favourite venues - food, coffee and music?
The year before I left London was spent in Crystal Palace and after living North there was a lot to explore. We enjoyed many an evening eating at Brixton Market, usually starting at the cocktail bar Seven. We spent a lot of time at our studio in Deptford and our favourite breakfast spot was The Waiting Room where we enjoyed bagels and coffee. Evenings would be spent at our friend's brewery, Villages. You’ve got to try Whistle, their zesty pilsner.
What projects do you have coming up?
My partner and I have just started our studio together which will be an exploration of traditional craft, developing a deeper meaning of the everyday through travel and documentation. Recently we designed a logo for a project that aims to reintroduce the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly into the Nimbin area of New South Wales. We began with a wood-carved block print and look forward to seeing how this project develops.
The future sees us traveling and immersing ourselves in projects involving natural building and craft techniques. We’ll be collaborating with people who are practicing permaculture design and living ethically and in harmony with the land. We want to live and learn with communities who have an intimate and reciprocal relationship with the natural world and who prefer a less industrialized lifestyle.
Ultimately, what would be your ideal living/working set up and where?
Eventually, we’d like a property with land that has the potential for studios and kitchen gardens, but whilst traveling we’ve found that as long as we’ve got a comfy desk setup, with natural surroundings and inspiring people, we are able to create and be productive.
Being able to pack up and move whenever we want to has made us feel a lot freer and less bogged down by the monotony of stationary life. Travel has become an integral part of our life, creatively and practically.