An interview with celebrated Australian ceramicist - Malcolm Greenwood

Malcolm Greenwood is one of Australia's most prominent ceramicists, and is a true master of his craft. He has been hand making ceramics since the 70s, well before their recent explosion in popularity. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and with over 40 years’ experience under his belt Koskela is honoured to collaborate with this talented stalwart.

Working out of his Sydney home studio, Malcolm creates tableware for many of Australia’s finest restaurants and has produced a couple of collections for Koskela to sell in store. The most recent of which is our Koskela Clay Collection.

Malcolm has developed a unique range of ceramic tableware for our valued community. The collection is available in both a stoneware and porcelain white and is sure to inspire captivating dinner table conversation with friends and family.

However, his talent doesn’t stop there. As we have been working with Malcolm for over 15 years, there’s many a piece you could furnish your home with. Notably are his elegant ceramic Licht Pendants. Their elegant shape is formed using stoneware clay imported from Japan, and each one bears marks from the handmade process. Available in two sizes and three colours, they are a true piece of functional art!

We caught up with Malcolm to find out more about his inspiration, making process and how it differs across his diverse ranges from ceramic mugs, to ceramic plates and ceramic lighting.

What was your path to becoming a ceramicist?

This is quite involved. My interest was first piqued when I drove past the first Potters’ Society Gallery in Woolloomooloo in the early 70s when I was doing my apprenticeship as a fitter and machinist. I then took my first class when I was at business school in the USA, finally moving to Boston where I met my teacher Makoto Yabe who I worked and studied with on and off from about 1976/77 until 1980. I continued making pots as a hobby while I was working in engineering and the corporate world until I was made redundant in 1989. Since then I have been working professionally as a potter earning my living entirely from making and selling my work.

After all these years, what do you feel when you’re making in the studio?

I still really enjoy making work which is used every day. This is still my main motivation. Visiting one of my restaurant customers where I have made all the tableware still really blows me away, as does a customer telling me that they use one of my cups every morning for their tea.  Just last week a friend came by lamenting that their favourite cup they have been using for 25 years for their morning cuppa was broken.

I still really enjoy making work which is used every day. This is still my main motivation...

What part of your ceramic practice brings you the most joy?

Making (art and functional) work which becomes part of people’s everyday lives. One of the most enjoyable things is having a customer tell me how much joy they get from having their cereal every morning from one of my bowls.

Is there a particular song, or creative routine to get you in the zone?

I am listening to jazz mostly (usually a mellow sax or piano piece) while at my wheel, looking out onto my garden.

How did you develop a dinnerware range for Koskela?

The Koskela dinnerware range was developed with Sasha maybe 15 years ago. The porcelain pieces are timeless and have been improved by using a much better quality of clay.  The stoneware range has been given a new lease on life by using a much more interesting and `warmer’ clay and a new glaze.

What does the making process look like for a dinnerware range?

The development and making of a tableware range can take many months. Firstly it has to be functional…great to use and durable…both the clay and the glaze. Thats the easy part: then it has to be visually interesting/pleasing and hopefully `timeless’.

What’s your favourite dish to serve at a dinner party?

Almost anything that works well with my tableware. Because we have such a huge variety of `rejects’ to choose from in our house, the list is way too long. 

Are there any particular styles that influence you?

Makoto Yabe introduced me to Japanese ceramics and the rest is history. I follow the Japanese aesthetic and philosophy, hopefully reinterpreting from a western perspective – I do not make “Japanese” pots. My continual challenge is simple, functional and aesthetically pleasing work. I am particularly drawn to the Shigaraki style of Japanese ceramics.

How do you make Koskela’s Ceramic Licht Pendants?

The licht pendants are made from special stoneware clay I import from Japan. They are formed using the jigger/jolly process. A while slip (clay) is applied to the inside surface, followed by a clear glaze. The lights are then fired, once, to 1300 degrees Celsius.

What would be a dream commission?

I still get a huge “buzz” from making all the tableware for a new restaurant and seeing it in use. My dream commission however would be to be able to do a permanent installation of maybe 15 large “heads”. I have another installation idea germinating at the moment and I would love to have the time to turn it into reality.

It goes without saying that we love working with you, but why is it that you like working with us?

I think Koskela’s respect for the skill of the maker, good design and quality work creates a great environment for collaboration.

Do you have any questions? Get in touch today, and we will connect you with the right person in our team.

Koskela is proud to be the first furniture and homewares company in Australia to be a Certified B Corporation®.

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