Minaal Lawn, Vessel, 2020. Members’ Vitrine Gallery. Photographer: Michael Pham

Minaal Lawn

Craft Conversations

Based in Glenlyon, Victoria, Minaal Lawn makes intimate, domestic scale ceramic objects that celebrate the reconciliation of her Indian heritage with her Australian upbringing. Her work examines the transformation from an inherited culture, revisiting childhood stories and object symbolism, to one that is owned.

Alongside her exhibition ‘Vessel’ in the Members’ Vitrine Gallery, Minaal spoke to us about her practice, the symbolism within her work, and an exciting collaborative project she has in the pipeline!

Minaal, we are thrilled to exhibit your new work in the Members’ Vitrine Gallery! Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you start your journey with clay?

My journey with clay began when I started studying at SoCA. I met inspiring teachers (Shane Kent, Neville French and Kate Jones) who introduced me to the hand-building technique, and I have been hooked ever since!

Can you speak more about the influence of your Indian heritage on your practice, and the importance of symbols, cultural objects and colour as sources of inspiration?

My art practice is a way to think further about objects that surrounded me during my childhood, as well as the stories that were told. In making the object I can identify what they mean to me and how they are contextualised within my own cultural narrative.

What is the meaning of the “vessel” to you, and how have you have explored this in your recent work?

I have explored what the “vessel” represents in my culture, the narrative and symbolism attached to it. It has traditionally held water, provided nourishment and life. In sacred ceremony it has been the symbol for abundance. In making these works I have arrived at a form that transcends its story, that to me is its essence, universal, common in order to find a reconciliatory harmony.

Dry and colourful glazes are a distinct feature in your work. How do you create such fantastic and vibrant colours? And what influences your choices and combinations?

I use coloured stains in my work, mixing them with a dry glaze or slip I have developed. I use the colours like a painting palette and intentionally make them in small quantities, each time, to ensure the exact same colour is not used over and over. With regard to the choice of colour, this is something innate, unique to my sensibilities, which are influenced by both an interest and background in fashion, as well as exposure to a colourful Indian upbringing.

You have recently moved from inner city Melbourne to regional Victoria, has this change of place informed or influenced your creative practice?

The movement, shape and colour of the clouds is something I see more of and notice more intently, and there is an enhanced awareness to my day and surrounds. I find myself noticing moments of pause that were not otherwise there. This has manifested in my art practice as patience and a deeper inquiry into why I make what I make.

Any upcoming projects that you’re excited about?

Indeed. I have been collaborating with Art Director Marsha Golemac throughout lockdown. We met online, and quickly recognised our mutual adoration for traditional craft, textiles, design and architecture from our individual cultures; India and Croatia. Together, while never meeting in person, we have created a series of ceramic pieces that we will be launching soon.