Originally hailing from Sydney, Xanthe Murphy is a designer with a passion around creating ceramics-based art that serves a strong sense of purpose. Making and creating decorative pieces that can also provide functionality, Murphy’s ceramics hope to provide customers with the opportunity to enjoy something that is handmade, sustainable, and embraces imperfections as what makes each piece unique.
Currently working as a ceramics associate at the Jam Factory in Adelaide, Murphy will be participating in the upcoming Gathered SA Markets (July 13 + 14) and will be hosting a ceramics workshop. In anticipation of her upcoming appearance, I was fortunate enough to conduct an interview with Xanthe via Jenna O’Dell (owner of Gathered SA) – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, Xanthe?
Xanthe: Hi, Im Xanthe. I am a designer working predominantly in ceramics. I grew up in the eastern suburbs of Sydney and have recently moved to Adelaide to continue learning and develop my practice as a ceramics Associate at JamFactory. I have been a maker for as long as I can remember, learning to sew, knit and bake from my grandmothers. Making has always been in integral part of my life and I feel restless if I don’t have a project to channel my energy into!
Tema: How long have you been running your business for? How have you found the journey of your business so far?
Xanthe: I am very new to running my own business, only starting at the beginning of this year! It has been an enjoyable experience so far but I am wary that it is still only in its infancy and I have so much to learn from the process. So far it has offered me a lot of freedom and joy but is also a lot of hard work. One of my biggest struggles at the moment is comparing myself to other artists and crafts people who have been working at developing their practice for years. I look at them and wonder why I don’t have it together as much as them. I have to continuously remind myself to enjoy the process let my work evolve naturally.
Tema: What would you say about your business to someone who may not have heard of you before?
Xanthe: I am a passionate maker, and each and every piece I make has a little part of that love in it. I am driven by functionality and aim to make work that has longevity for everyday use. I try to blur the line between decorative and utilitarian so that every interaction special. I always strive for my work to be as sleek and minimal as possible.
Tema: What does the creative process look like, in terms of creating your custom ceramic designs?
Xanthe: My creative process is continuous and all consuming. I am always thinking about what and how I will make my next piece. I try to draw my ideas on paper as much as possible to get them out of my head, but more often than not I have ideas for work dancing around in my mind for weeks on end. I am predominantly a wheel thrower, so the process begins with a lump of clay and a whole lot of possibility. Wheel throwing suits me really well because it means that I can rapidly produce pieces and adjust them on the spot until I am completely happy with the form. I am also currently enjoying painting on my pieces using underglazes. I sketch a very rough design and then fill it out, adding more detail with the paintbrush.
Tema: What inspires you to run your business?
Xanthe: I am inspired by the people around me at JamFactory, to be surrounded by so many people who are truly passionate about what they do is infectious. I also have this great book called ‘In the Company of Women’ that I read when I need a bit of a badass women in business inspo.
Tema: What is the range of products that your business currently specializes in?
Xanthe: I am currently producing a range of functional dinnerware and vases and a new range of painted beakers, bottles and vases inspired by my move from Sydney to Adelaide. I also spend a lot of my time teaching ceramics workshops which is a parallel to my practice that I absolutely love. And of course there is much more in the works!
Tema: What do you hope for your customers to experience, when they participate in your upcoming workshop at Gathered SA?
Xanthe: I hope that my workshop participants have an enjoyable and fun time, learn a new skill and come away with beautiful tea set that is uniquely theirs. I especially love when people come with their friends or family, it is such a beautiful experience to share with a loved one.
Tema: What do you think is rewarding / challenging about being a small scale business in SA?
Xanthe: Connecting with so many new people in SA is really rewarding, especially those I get to know through my classes. The cost of living here also makes it easier to be in the early stages of running a business. For me the most challenging thing is being away from my family. My parents and sister have always been so supportive of my artistic pursuits and they love being the first to test out new pieces, plus give honest feedback so being away from them is hard.
Tema: What do you think helps your business stand out from the rest?
Xanthe: My passion for my work helps me to stand out. I am very meticulous about what I do and never want to put work that is not the best I can possibly make into the world.
Tema: Why should people support your business?
Xanthe: People should support my business because I am a one woman show making work I am incredibly passionate about. Purchasing something that is made by hand with love and care is so much more special than something that is mass produced.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like our readers and your customers to know about your business?
Xanthe: I am teaching two workshops at Gathered SA on the 14th of July. I would love to see you there, help you learn a new skill and make some beautiful ceramics together!
Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan
Photos supplied by Xanthe Murphy
With thanks to Jenna O’Dell from Gathered SA for the interview opportunity