Five Questions with Pip Woods

28 November 2022

Wellington-based ceramic artist, Pip Woods is a finalist in the 2022 Portage Ceramic Awards. Pip's work in the finals is called Siblings and explores the physical and emotional characteristics which unite and divide, the alliances and rivalries and the shared experiences that characterise relationships between brothers and sisters. The work will be shown alongside the 30 finalists at Titirangi's Te Uru Gallery from 26 November 2022 - 5 March 2023.

Pip Woods in her studio

Congratulations on being a finalist in the Portage Ceramic Awards. What does recognition like this mean to you? To your career?

It's such an honour. Karl Chitham [Director of The Dowse Art Museum and judge of the 2022 Portage Ceramic Awards] will have curated a really interesting exhibition, which I am delighted to be a part of. I can’t wait to see it. As for my career, I truly don’t know... This is such an unpredictable path. It has certainly given me more confidence as a maker, and hopefully will result in producing more work which connects with people. That’s the goal.

Your collection for the awards is called "siblings". What aspects of the sibling relationship did you find yourself most drawn to in creating this collection?

Probably the unspoken alliances that are evident through body language and position. I was one of six children, so possibly became very attuned to these subtle non-verbal forms of communication, and have observed the ever shifting sibling relationships of my own three children. I’m drawn to creating sculptural forms that have inherent human characteristics, and to me these three are child-like in their proportions and postures. They have physical characteristics that bind them, as well as set them apart. Their positions in relation to each other reflect those special sibling relationships.

Do you always consciously create collections around a theme, or do you sometimes discover the theme once you look at the finished pieces?

I do create collections around themes. The themes and ideas often continue to evolve once the making begins. I’m not always sure where the collection will finally land and how the theme will be expressed until I have made a few pieces. My processes are fairly organic in that way.

Much of your work is vessels – do you create them with the idea that they are free-standing works of art, or do you feel that they need to hold something to be complete?

Vases are my ‘bread and butter’, and I would like to think they can stand alone as pieces of art. However, as I love flowers and botanicals, I often make vases with certain flowers in mind. I enjoy how they enhance each other when paired well, like a little collaboration.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently exploring the materiality of clay in sculptural forms. I’m aiming to find a form or surface treatment that has a certain ‘softness’ to it, moving the clay from its solid earthiness. All very much trial and error at this stage, but will hopefully form the basis of new work for next year.

The Portage Ceramic Awards finalists can be viewed at Titirangi's Te Uru Gallery from 26 November 2022 - 5 March 2023.

See more of Pip's work here.