Caitlin Osborne

see me on the 2024 arts trail

I was first drawn to ceramics when working in a tea shop in Wellington, where I developed an affinity for the Japanese tea bowls on sale. There was something so satisfying about the perfect weight, the cool of the ceramic to touch, stonelike, peaceful, as if the ritual of tea preparation somehow permeated the material to lend it some mystical power.

I think this is in line with the Māori concept of ‘mauri’, or vital essence. An inanimate object can hold life force. A tree has mauri but it is also possible for its altered form as a table to have mauri.

Pottery is a tactile, heavy touch process. Someone’s bare hands have shaped the form, someone has put something of themselves into it. And throwing puts you in such a state of flow; it’s a rhythmic, meditative, focussed and grounding experience, it seems like the vessel cannot help but be imbued with this energy.

I predominantly make functional ware, a lot of mugs. I like mugs because they are heavy use, intimate objects; you might wake every morning to the same favourite mug and start your day together. I have some mugs that make my mornings vastly happier.

It’s a privilege if I can make something that gives another person that same feeling. To me, attending to the small things and taking joy from them is a big part of finding contentment in life, and having objects with depth to interact with enhances this.

To make something functional that you use in everyday life is inherently satisfying – many of us are completely removed from the product of our labour – making functional pottery is the opposite of this. Working primarily in desk-based roles, I had never experienced this connection to my labour before trying pottery in 2019, and I fell immediately in love. I have been potting casually since then, selling the odd piece, mainly through friends. I have done a few short courses but am predominantly self-taught. I make mostly domestic ware along with some sculptural work.

Other than the essence of the object itself, I am inspired by nature, I like mineral tones and simple colours. A long-term goal is to eco-source as many materials as possible, I’m currently testing clay from our property in Ocean Beach.

I am now turning my attention to potting in a more full-time capacity – this trail will be the first event I have participated in.

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