Kate Bowman is a contemporary potter crafting handmade ceramics from the bright and airy Stoker Studio in Mornington.
Working alongside her staffy, Hank, Kate’s work explores the relationship between bold geometric shapes and organic forms to create a range of functional ware including planters, tableware and lamps..
Each piece in the collection is handcrafted and unique, with designs that merge textural elements with soft bisque patterns and shapes.
Across the range Kate predominantly use porcelain and stained slips to apply modernist patterns to a surface. Each piece is then fired to stoneware and finished in matte glaze.
While she is best known for ceramic planters, the earth mugs and breakfast sets that Kate added to the collection six months ago have also been wildly popular. The pieces are artworks in themselves, but they’re designed to be functional for everyday use.
A creative through and through, Kate studied design before moving overseas and working in the fashion industry in London. It was here – surrounded by colours, fabrics and textures – that her obsession with patterns started.
When she moved back home to Melbourne, Kate threw herself into a fast-paced career in advertising and copywriting. After ten years working in the industry – like many creatives – she found she was fast approaching burn-out. She enrolled in a wheel throwing course at Northcote Pottery as a way to unwind and reconnect with creative design. The new hobby and obsession with handmade ceramics grew into a business organically.
“I started sharing my journey with clay on Instagram, which led to interest from friends, followed by shops and galleries," she says. "Twelve months ago I decided to switch gears and flip careers to make ceramics my main focus”.
Now, every day in the studio is different, and Kate loves the freedom of being able to choose which hat to wear on any given day.
“If I don’t feel the energy for a throwing session, I can pick up a brush and spend the day decorating a piece, or grab a tool and carve away at a lump of clay to make a lamp," she says.
Kate is inspired by the Peninsula’s rugged coastline and uses clay as a medium to connect back to nature.
“Being able to take natural material from mother earth and translate it into an idea is incredibly rewarding,” she says.
"I love opening the kiln and seeing the results. You can either break out in interpretive dance or swallow humble pie. There are so many parts of the process that can go wrong. You never stop learning with ceramics.”
Like many of our makers, the pandemic hit Kate hard.
“Without markets – a key source of income – it’s forced artists like myself to look at other ways to reach new audiences.”
Thankfully, her new studio in Mornington’s industrial estate has opened up possibilities and connected her with a bunch of local creatives and business owners.
“Collaborating with like-minded makers on online events has been fun, and inviting people into my studio through virtual tours and Q&A sessions has been a great way to stay connected.”
Looking forward, Kate continues to launch fresh new products in her online store and is hosting a series of workshops and wheelthrowing courses in her new space.