First Nations multidisciplinary artist Meg Croydon has a solo exhibition at the Koskela gallery entitled Slowly, Gently.
Croydon is the founder of Waymbul Studios, the brand through which she sells her art. Waymbul is a Kuku Yalanji phrase meaning, 'slowly, gently', which is the guiding principle of Croydon’s practice.
As a talented ceramicist, who was taught by renowned First Nations ceramicist Penny Evans, Croydon focused on ceramics for her Koskela exhibition. She presents a series of handcrafted bowls, vases and sculptures.
“I usually start building a piece and finish it up soon after, making them smaller pieces. This time I let them speak and they begged to be bigger pieces. Each of these pieces took up to a week to finish.”
To promote the exhibition, we caught up with Croydon, to get an understanding of her process and how she explores her First Nations identity in her art. Read the Q&A below!
What was your path to becoming a ceramicist?
I started ceramics in 2018 on the side in my third year of Social Work and on placement, working in the DV sector. I knew pretty early on that I didn’t have the capacity to work in human services forever. At the time I was experiencing pretty traumatic days at work, so I channelled all that I couldn’t process into clay. I attended a half-day hand building course with Penny Evans and from there bought myself a bag of clay and have been playing ever since.
Could you describe your practice?
It’s really slow! As you know, I started in 2018 and only created part-time for 4 years. Up until now I’ve avoided consuming other ceramicists work because a lot of my learning has been super intuitive. It’s been more about establishing a respect and relationship with the clay. I usually have a little note book of shapes I’ve journalled prior as a starting point, however I usually don’t get around to most as the clay mostly has it’s own mind. I develop mini ‘drops’ based on certain styles and shapes that are all produced within a certain timeframe that end up looking similar. Now I feel like I have established more of my own style, I willingly admire others’ work around me!
What was the inspiration for this exhibition?
The inspiration for this exhibition is around the meaning of Waymbul, which is the Kuku Yalanji word for slowly, gently. This won’t be seen necessarily, but hopefully more felt. I took on making these pieces very slowly. I usually start building a piece and finish it up soon after, making them smaller pieces. This time I let them speak and they begged to be bigger pieces. Each of these pieces took up to a week to finish being built (usually 1-3 days).
How do you explore your First Nations identity in your art?
Initially it was just about connecting back with my hands and the earth through the materials. I have a tendency to live in my head and I didn’t experience being in my body until I started using clay. I’ve used it to explore connecting back with language. I don’t speak it but it’s been really meaningful to connect back with this language that would have been spoken fluently within generations preceding me. These days it’s developed through stories of my family that are handed down. It’s so special and rare for these stories to be shared, I feel like I need to tell them through my art to share and to continue passing down. I’ve recently started using textiles for this too. Hopefully in the near future there will be more resources to explore in person and on Country.
What keeps you creatively inspired?
I’m really lucky in a way because I have a tap of creativity that’s broken and won’t turn off. It’s really rare for me to not have ideas. The trick for me that I’m learning to act on them as fast as I can, so I can continue to develop the story/identity. A lot of lessons and data come from trying something, and especially failing at it. You can either ditch it or build upon it if it shows potential. I will have to say I struggle more with the execution part of it and the creativity stream can cause freeze and overwhelm. For that I like to journal as a conscious stream whether it’s with words or illustrations. I also think if people struggle with staying inspired creatively, journalling would also be extremely effective.