Local potter Gemma Pettiford in her home studio

Creative Faces > Gemma Pettiford

Gemma Ruth Ceramics. Another trusty label to come out of the institution that is the Coonamble Ceramics Collective. She is also a regular in the annual Outback Archies. The lady behind it all is Gemma Pettiford and is this month’s Creative Face. She pumps out cute homewares including milk jugs and teacups your teapot would die for. Read on for the lo down on Gemma…

Hello, what is your name and how old are you?

Gemma Ruth Pettiford, and I am still in my 30s!

Your business Gemma Ruth Ceramics has been up and running for a couple of years now…tell us about that! 

GRC evolved after I joined the local Coonamble Ceramics Collective in about 2013 when they set up shop in the old Scouts Hall.  After years of wanting to re-immerse myself in the world of ceramics and potting, especially ‘throwing on the wheel’ I found this amazingly resourced local studio where I had support to remember and learn skills and make many friends too.  There are many, many avenues to explore within the ceramics medium, but it should come with a warning, ‘Clay Is Addictive’!! Therefore I was quickly producing many, many more bowls than I could use or give away, so I came up with Gemma Ruth Ceramics and started selling my wares so I could make more and help pay for my habit.

You’re an old hand at exhibiting in the Outback Archies art prize and exhibition. What do you think this annual competition offers artists in the region? 

It is an amazing chance to showcase local talent and the range of diversity and raw talent in our rural areas.  It is a great opportunity for artists and residents to attend the opening and the exhibition without having to travel afar to see a high quality showing.

What else have you been up to? 

Making mugs and bowls on the wheel in my home studio around raising my three children.  Whenever I have the chance I duck to the studio in town and help to pack the kiln, glaze or hand build or use the slab roller to make larger pieces, such as really big platters or birdbaths.  Probably also throw in a bit of renovating and gardening.

How would you describe your style? 

Absolutely eclectic. I am inspired by so many different things, especially colour and pattern and find it hard to stick to creating one thing at a time. I have been making a lot of blue and white pieces, as well as experimenting with staining my clay body blue, which has turned out a beautiful duck egg blue colour.

Why do you think it’s important to provide creative outlets and opportunities for people, especially in regional areas?

Immense positive outcomes come from ‘getting in your creative zone’, it definitely keeps me level headed. We live in a beautiful area and the most amazing country, why not express that and share it with others.

What have you got coming up?

The Outback Archies, and producing some lovely items for my stockists and a few market stalls in the lead up to Christmas.

What other artistic developments would you like to see occur in our region?

Anything ‘hands on’ with a good teacher. You cannot measure the mental and social wellbeing that comes from immersing yourself in a creative process and if that can flow through our community; what a great investment. I don’t think it matters what the process is: printing, painting, clay, woodwork, silver smithing, knitting etc, people will gravitate towards their area of interest.

What would you be doing if you weren’t making ceramics?

I was a Pre School Director for well over a decade before I had my children but at the moment I’d be raising my family and doing a lot of gardening….

Where can we see more of your stuff?

I have stock available at Outback Arts, Mink and Me and the Cottage Craft Shop, all in Coonamble as well as at Manly Home Etc.

Lastly, Beatles or the Stones?

Oh to choose.. Beatles, gotta love Hey Jude x