Saturday, 23 July 2016

What's on your table?

Helen Naylor, potter, creative and lover of life, is my featured artist this month. For anyone who is unsure about whether to take the leap into a creative life, read what Helen has to say below.

You can find Helen on Facebook and Instagram and in Queensland, her pottery is available at this St Barts storeHelen will be exhibiting hebotanical series bowls and Stir The Pot Spoons at this @life_instyle fair which showcases emerging hot trends in design and is held in Melbourne from 4-7 August. So if your'e in Melbourne, head on down.

Below is Helen's Aeropunk series with impressions from aircraft parts that are no longer usable. "Aircraft have lives that are timed by hours in the sky and hours lived." The black vases/cups are a new black clay Helen is playing with. She says "Messy, but fun. I have to take my wheel outside and hose it off. Actually I am going to start throwing this clay out in the garden so I don’t have the massive task of cleaning up the studio each time. Spring time will be extra fun in this garden."  

A dinner service Helen uses at home from her Sari series.
Photos courtesy, Helen Naylor 2016

1. Have you always been interested in creating and how did you become involved with pottery?

Helen: Well that is a long story. I am a traditional Animator, you know cartoons on TV made the old way, without a computer. It is pretty involved and having a perfectionist personality really helps. Except when you want to relax. Don't get me wrong it is relaxing for me, but I felt I needed to let go. I don't know why I decided on working with clay. It is over twenty years ago that I started this curious playing. It could have been from my father. He used to go pot holing for his own clay. I really hoped the clay would be freeing from the precise procedures needed to make an Animated film or TV commercial. I am still trying to convince the clay it is in charge and that I am not.

2.  What artists inspire you and why? 

Helen: Hmm this is a tricky one. I tend to keep to myself when it comes to looking at other artists. I am always worried if I see some-thing it will influence my thoughts and I would end up copying them by accident.

3. How do you sell your works and how do you stay focused when you are building up stock?

Helen: Building stock is soooooo hard for me. Have you seen my web site ! Oh dear. I am very social and people stop in for tea a lot. I always say the house might not be straight but the kettle is always on, please stop in, and they do. Which means a trip down to the pottery to see what is there. Which means pieces leave to new homes or for gifts to new homes by those said tea drinking visitors that I love.

Staying focused is so hard. I build up collections of thingies that I want to use in my clay soon. They sit there on the shelves and talk to me saying "come on, when is it our turn ? We want to play in the clay now " yes I can not resist they win and before I have finished exploring the last topic thee it is the next shinny thing is off the shelf and being played with. You know they don't actually talk to me ! I don't hear voices ! I have decided to just let it happen. It will sort itself out some-where along the path. The main thing is to have fun, isn't it ?

Where do I sell ? I used to have an Etsy shop but that was not working for me. Don't know why. My main supplier is St Barts. The most amazing homewears shop here on the Gold Coast in Queensland Australia. They have a shop in James Street in the Vally in Brisbane too. I generally can not keep the stock up to them. Which is so good for my heart, it makes it sing so load with the joy I receive from this news. The owner is amazing to me.

I am also represented by 19Karen Contemporary Art Gallery on the Gold Coast. This is a brilliant gallery. Nothing like it on the coast. The oddest location but worth going. They have a wide range of artists from all over our lovely planet.

4. What are you happiest doing creatively and why? 

Helen: Hmmmm this a trick question for me. Ask me before I gave birth to my greatest work of art, my son and you would get a different answer. Right now I am most happiest building towers out of blocks before he sends them crashing down with a heck of a noise. Drawing on his magnetic drawing tablet with him - this really makes me happy as I am able to practice my circles and lines.

Baby aside. I think the answer to this is I really don't know. I love it all. I really enjoy mucking about and being in the process. If it is not feeling right for me at that time I move onto some-thing else or drink tea and stare at the trees in my garden. I know the next time I work on it or with that medium it will come and be wonderful.

5. What approach do you take when you find you are creatively stuck? 

Helen:I know I should say I just keep at it, but no I walk away, I drink tea, I play with other things. I don't put any pressure on myself so I think that might be why I don't get stuck. 

6. Where would you like to be creatively in five years' time? 

Helen: In five years time I would like to be still walking this path I am walking on now. Playing around with all that makes me smile. I really like where I am. 

7. For someone's starting down this track what is the best piece of advice you could give? 

Helen:Jump jump jump. Don't look down. Don't listen to the voices that give you worry that you are being daft. Once you are over that line the voices on the other side will be happy ones singing and cheering you on. It is much nicer on the other side of the line so go ahead and jump.

I am not saying give up your day job as I hear of people doing that and then there is so much pressure on them to make art that sells. Just ease into it, leave your safety net there to calm your mind.

This month's challenge on Instagram: 

One lucky person will be the recipient of one of Helen's pieces (wish I could enter!). So please keep your entries rolling over the next few weeks and Helen will select a winner. The theme is 'on the table' and you'll see why when looking at her work. 

This is the piece that Helen will provide as the prize - in production and complete

Photos courtesy, Helen Naylor 2016

The comp is open worldwide and closes on 15 August
To enter:
2. Take a new pic that features your favourite items on a table surface and tag #ab_onmytableseries
3. Invite a friend to join in the fun 

Hope you will join us!

Claudia x


  1. Wow, this article is pleasant, my younger sister is analyzing these kinds of things, so I am going to tell her.

    Optimized360 is a top notch Funeral Homes Website Design firm in the United States.

  2. It was so much fun chatting with you Claudia. There are some fabulous table contents photos and stories coming through on the IG feed. It is going to be pleasingly difficult to choose one winner.

    1. It has been fun Helen, thank you! So lovely to collaborate with someone who is so enthusiastic and engaging! All the best to you - your products are beautiful. Good luck with selecting a winner - that's the tough bit!