Art with Heart: Jolene Hewison Captures the Beauty of Nature with her Ceramics

A powerful force for change, art can make a deep and moving impact on our hearts and minds. With so many talented creatives in Australia moving and shaking to make the world a better place – and because Earth without art is just ‘eh’ – we’ve introduced a digital series called Art with Heart to showcase the superstars in our local art scenes.

Here we meet Margaret River-based artist Jolene Hewison, who captures the intangible beauty of nature and everyday moments with her clay ceramics, while encouraging play and finding joy in creativity.


What led you to ceramics?

I’ve always loved to be creative and feel particularly drawn toward design. I moved into ceramics after a rewarding career in building design, so there has definitely been a theme there for me. There’s something incredibly appealing about solving practical problems in a beautiful way.

I felt I was ready for a change when my youngest child started school and knew I had found it after my first beginners class in ceramics! I loved the endless possibilities with clay and ceramic design. That came after a long spell of having little time to myself or time to be creative, so I was pretty much unstoppable from that point.

You use a combo of studio and foraged clays for making and decorating. Why is that?

Studio clays help me to have consistency, but the wild clays are some of the most beautiful and exciting elements of my work. I started to experiment with a clay deposit I found on our property and remembered how rewarding exploration without knowing the outcome can be. Luckily for me, that clay fires into a beautiful deep red, which I use in my natural clay palettes.

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Why are you so drawn to nature and the elements in your designs?

 Nature is such a huge part of my life. My daily rhythm revolves around walking with my dogs, adventures with our children and time in nature with friends. It’s such a huge priority for me to live within and care for our wildlife and our environment. There are no patterns, forms or colours more beautiful, so I feel continually inspired by simply stepping outside. I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the fauna of our planet. When depicting animals in my work, I always try to capture a sense of power in that creature. I’m not sure where that comes from, but I think it’s something akin to my wish for them to win this battle they’ve been forced into with us.

How do you create the patterns on your ceramics?

So many of my designs are a result of a hundred little changes, deviations and mistakes derived from a small concept. The original concept is usually a found object in nature with an interesting pattern, shape or form. I predominantly use the sgraffito method for my work, as it is almost limitless in design opportunities. This method is the process of applying a surface material to the clay body, then carving into that to reveal the original clay underneath.

 Nature is such a huge part of my life… There are no patterns, forms or colours more beautiful, so I feel continually inspired by simply stepping outside.

Can you share a little about your creative process?

I’ve come to realise that creative flow is available with the acceptance that I am willing to make mistakes. I have reflected on this a whole lot over the last few years, as it’s been an interesting revelation that I love to share with friends and students who feel they are creatively stuck. When starting something new, my design process is to have three or four clay bodies ready to decorate – my blank canvases – and simply respond to them intuitively. I might have a small idea or piece of inspiration to start the process. I’ll change a few elements with each piece, then just see how I feel about them. Sometimes they’ll go straight into the seconds basket and sometimes I will love it completely, though mostly I can extract perhaps one or two workable elements to follow up within the next batch. By accepting this is likely to be the case, I can stay unattached and keep all creative options open.

What’s your favourite part about running workshops? 

As someone who loves to cocoon away in my studio and having never taught before, I was stepping right out of my comfort zone initially. But seeing the way people responded to what I could offer became such a light in my life – and something I feel so honoured to do. Many women come to me who have not been creative for a very long time due to busy lives and often having had young children. Creative play can feel like an extravagance to be trimmed from the to-do list, as it was for me. Seeing someone sink into something new, fun and creative is to witness a shift. It’s beautiful and deeply meaningful to many people.

Visit or check out Jolene’s Instagram account at @river.ceramics

This story originally appeared in Issue 55. To read more, explore our past issues here.

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