With These Hands: in Conversation with Ceramic Artist Monique RobinsonWith These Hands: in Conversation with Ceramic Artist Monique Robinson

With These Hands: in Conversation with Ceramic Artist Monique Robinson

No one knows how to create art that warms space quite like Monique Robinson, so if it’s a sense of home you are shaping, then let her guide the way.

“Hands dry of clay, of earth
Will these hands feel soft again?
Hands that make, that work, that touch, that crack, that seek,
that shadow one’s face from that now returning sunlight
and that grasp a warm cup of tea with contentment.”

Sunrises and sunsets are felt in the home, the place that captures moments in time, the vessel for people we love — and the objects too.
For ceramics artist Monique Robinson, the pieces she creates take from light seen in these moments, specifically the warmth and richness only felt at sunrise and sunset. The glow that welcomes the start of any day and promises another.
Her recent residency in Aotearoa, New Zealand on the Coromandel Peninsula at Driving Creek Pottery (DCP) has welcomed a new sense of cyclicality and assurance in her creative path, one that connects heavily to the natural world.
The artistic journey at DCP includes the opportunity to dig for clay from surrounding mountain ranges, as well as using the clay found on site. The chosen wild clay is mixed with grog, which is previously fired pottery, ground down to textures ranging from flour to granulated sugar. Often this is pottery discarded by an earlier artist at DCP, adding an element of rebirth to the pottery and a nod to the cyclical system we find in nature.
The act of hand foraging for clay speaks to Monique’s intentional focus on the process rather than seeking an outcome.
“To dig mud from the earth, make something entirely unique with one’s hands, add flame of up to 1400 degrees and be confronted with an otherworldly artefact once cooled is a rewarding feat. There is presence felt at every step, to experiment with no expectation of outcome, no desire for function and with complete surrender to various uncontrollable elements is a feeling of acceptance and surrender.”
The creations this mindset births speak to the type of artist she is, one that endeavours to bring moments alive in art.
“It seems to purge out works that emulate a moment in time, capturing such presence and holding it within the work, resulting in pieces truly unique unto themselves.”
The pottery mimics in colour and texture, the orange tones of the Earth and the sky above us, as seen in the changing of the light. Each piece of art is unique, a morphological moment in time — not unlike forms in the natural world. It’s easy to understand why she feels most ‘herself’ in nature.
“I am continuously overwhelmed by the ability of our natural world. Each tree trunk, its idiosyncratic bark and patterns, the reddish colour of a fallen leaf, the rippling translucence of water as it moves over rock, the orange of the sky at sunset, the unique initials of every marking on stone, the green of the grass. Such things have an immense impact on my mind and imagination, which ultimately extend into my creative practice.”
The pieces of art created by her hands, welded in thought by nature, bring light and connectedness to the living world, to spaces we call home — wherever that may be.
Home is not always easy to define in words, but we can feel it. And for Monique, that sense that home is a feeling remains true. Her art, however, evokes warmth and a visceral sense that our connection to the natural world is not something one can overlook. Each piece reminds us of our interconnectedness, regardless of the difference in the ground beneath our feet.
And when you hold a piece of art made from earth that once belonged to the landscapes we call home and grasped by hands before you, a feeling of oneness under the same sky is brought into the physical space you call home.