in the studio with RARA studio
RARA Studio ceramics are designed, hand-built and painted by Aliça Rose Tibbs in her Melbourne studio. She works alongside her trusty companions Teti (dog), Claudia and Sybil (cats). Aliça is a multidisciplinary visual artist, collector and maker with a love for natural materials and objects, especially the look and feel of handmade work.
Each RARA studio piece is one of a kind, with the marks of the maker celebrated, forming the texture of the work. She’s drawn to the unexpected beauty and wonderment that surrounds us in our everyday lives and in nature. She creates objects that can be used and enjoyed every day for arranging flowers, having your morning coffee or a piece of cake.
Recently we asked Aliça some questions about her practice. Read on to discover more.
How do you describe yourself?
An artist and a ceramicist – a hand builder.
Why/how did you start making pots?
I grew up eating out of handmade bowls that my mum made. She’d studied ceramics in England when she was younger, and when we lived in Perth we lived opposite a potter and she got back into it. I dabbled in high school but started making pots as an adult with a Japanese lady as a hobby. I had just finished my Masters in Fine Art, and was doing a lot of installation and public art at the time and wanted to start making with my hands again, something that felt more personal. I fell in love with clay and it just grew from there over time.
Describe your process
I like to clean my studio in preparation to make, which is both preparing the physical space and space inside myself so I feel clear and ready to work. I also walk my dog every morning before going in the studio, which is a nice way to start the day - seeing the flowers and sky before getting focused.
All my pieces are hand built, primarily using a pinching technique. I like to build in groups of things - say I’m building vases I’ll build multiple pieces at the same time. It’s like building a family; they are different but have similarities because they’ve been built together. When I’m at the stage of attaching necks and arms, like limbs to bodies, I try out the different parts on each body until it feels like a good fit. Each pot then takes on it own character. It can take hours or weeks to finish building a pot depending on how big it is or how many I’m doing at the same time. Once they are dried and bisque fired I glaze them all at the same time.
What is your favourite pot (could be yours, could be someone else's) and why?
When I was little my mum told me about this big coil pot that she made when we lived in NSW. When I was about 8 we moved to Perth and I think our belongings got sent over by train, but the coil pot never arrived. It was a massive pot, possibly the same size as me at that age. I don’t ever remember seeing the pot, I just remember the story of it, the mystery. And wonder what happened to it - did it break, did someone love it and keep it, where did it end up? I guess it’s become my favourite pot, because I really want to see it, but I never will and so can imagine it however I want.
What is something surprising about making pots?
Opening the kiln after a glaze firing is always still surprising. You never know quite how each piece will turn out. I find this final stage the most magical. The clay body merges with the glaze and suddenly becomes an ‘object’, a transformation of a raw material into something solid and permanent that could last thousands of years.