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Obsessing over Tessy King's wonky, hand-built and beautifully imperfect ceramic vessels

Tessy King is an emerging star in a new wave of young ceramicists, bubbling and baking away in Australia right now. If you’ve found yourself wandering through ceramics purveyors Mr Kitly, Guild of Objects or Craft Victoria in Melbourne at any time in the last couple of years, we’d say you’ve definitely encountered Tessy’s work before. Her signature trophy vessels are an instantly recognisable; tall, pot-bellied, surging and wobbling up with ramshackle handles and matte glazes.

Originally from a small town in northern New South Wales, she moved to Melbourne in 2011 to study jewellery design but became taken by clay in a ceramics class taken on a whim. And we’re so glad she did. Applying the technical skills she learnt in jewellery to clay, her work is unexpected and exciting, using age-old materials and techniques to create forms we’ve definitely never seen before.

Inspired by everything from eras past, plants, sidewalk posies and hard rubbish, Tessy creates vessels and sculptures that are full of personality and originality. Functional and decorative, their forms are wonky, mishap and imperfect. From small enamelled copper forms to tall, bubbly, bodacious clay forms, her pieces are all hand-built, small run and totally one of a kind. Using colour-blocking and subtle glazes, she opts for spraying, painting and dipping these solid blocks of colour, which emphasise and elevate the off-kilter forms.

Tessy’s practice stretches across the gallery and domestic worlds, showing her work as sculptural and installation pieces for exhibitions and functional, practical objects. We love the idea that any one of her vessels can look totally at home in a white cube gallery space, or on the kitchen bench with ramshackle, scavenged ikebana.

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