It was less than four years ago that Brisbane-based ceramicist Nicolette Johnson—then a professional photographer—took her first pottery class. She was finding her occupation unsatisfying and booked herself on a course at her local pottery school as “a good way to take my mind off work,” as she explains. “I immediately tried to figure out how I could make pots for a living.”
Self Portrait with Chrysanthemum Vase, a 2018 work by British-born, Brisbane-based ceramicist Nicolette Johnson, who began her professional career as a photographer.
A year later she bought a potter’s wheel and, a year after that, in 2017, held her first exhibition, when she decided to finally abandon photography and make pots full-time. “I’m currently planning exhibitions two years in advance,” she says. “Not once have I regretted my decision to change paths, even though it was an uncertain and, at times, scary transition.”
Nicolette Johnson’s Viridian Urn and Tall Frilled Vessel—a stoneware piece with matte black glaze, manganese and iron oxide detail, and vermiculite crystals—are both from the ceramicist’s 2018 collection.
Her speedy ascent is perhaps explained by developing a very distinct style very quickly: most ceramicists take years to get into a creative groove and find a style for themselves. Almost immediately, Johnson’s preference for mixing large coil-built vessels in straightforward shapes (the cylinder, the cone) with elaborate protrusions inspired by nature shone through. Her most recent vessels—covered in sprouting nodules—show the influence of the botanical world. Some look like tree trunks with their branches lopped off; others resemble dahlias or chrysanthemums.