When you head north through Cairns, in Far North Queensland, the busy highway heads past beachside suburbs and cane fields, before branching westward to wind through World Heritage rainforest to the village of Kuranda. It’s here at the top of the range where several artisans, including talented ceramist Mollie Bosworth, live immersed in natural beauty.
Nestled in the rainforest, Mollie’s lush, tropical garden and timber bungalow are accessed along a shady driveway edged by tended understory plants. Her life and work are intrinsically entwined; inspiration is omnipresent and despite the forest’s frenetic growth, it offers a serenity perfect for nurturing creativity and the production of her beautiful ceramics. Of the twenty years Mollie has worked professionally as a ceramist, fifteen have been spent here in her rainforest garden.
Always resourceful, she’s even used lengths of cursed, spiky wait-a-while vine cleared from the forest, to fashion woven balls adorning the veranda. A collection of found objects, plus work of other artists adorns her property also.
Step inside her purpose-built studio overlooking the garden, and it becomes clear that Mollie’s not just creative, she’s industrious as well. In the studio there’s a kiln, a couple of pottery wheels, a slab roller, an extruder, several tables and benches, a sink, and lots of shelves for storage. “I have to keep quite a lot of materials here because the nearest supplier is 1600kms away on the Sunshine Coast.”
Originally Mollie, who was self taught, made solely utilitarian pottery but the influx of cheap imports from Asia jolted her from a comfort zone. “I was ready to move on, explore new techniques, and hone my skills,” she says. “So I decided to take the opportunity of doing a distance course offered through Australian National University.
She began to research several new techniques, including laser imagery, which she now incorporates into her work. Some pieces are hand built but mostly they’re wheel thrown. Much of her highly polished work depicts delicately rendered botanical images or insects.
Using her own photographs, often taken in the garden, Mollie manipulates selected images in Photoshop before printing on a laser printer suitable for waterslide decals.
A scanner is used to develop complex patterns by overlaying leaves and other more two-dimensional objects. The results are fully revealed when light shines through the translucent porcelain.
All the pieces are aesthetic with refined, clean lines and simple forms, enhanced by polished surfaces. Some work has been inspired by all-over designs of the Qing Dynasty, or patterns made with indigo in traditional societies.
“Living in the rainforest, and being a passionate gardener, does have an influence on my work although it’s not always obvious. There’s so much growth but I often like to study the small details of my environment – and the subtle aspects,” Mollie reflects.
Sometimes in the summer’s wet season rain continues for days. Then when the sun comes out, and it’s steamy, the garden glistens and tropical plants burst into a frenzy of growth.
Winters are pleasant and it’s unusual for Mollie to close her studio doors. In fact she’s quite used to sharing it with the occasional python, or rat that passes through!
A beautiful collection of flowering anthuriums in Mollie’s garden. Many were inherited from her parents who were both avid gardeners and nursery people.
While the rainforest is predominately green, with myriad textures and tones, many of the garden plants are bold and bright. Collections of both flowering and foliage anthuriums are amongst Mollie’s favourites, and bromeliads and cordylines also add colourful accents. This is in stark contrast to the colours on her ceramics, which are usually in either earthy or pastel tones.
“I’ve used very little glaze in recent years and high fired colours are often more subtle. In some of my series I use coloured clays or water-soluble colours, which result in fairly subdued colour on unglazed surfaces.”
After a day in her studio, or a few hours in the garden, the veranda is the perfect spot where Mollie takes a break, catches up with friends and contemplates her next project.
As it’s the Festive Season, we have two beautiful pieces of Mollie’s work to give away: a broach and a bracelet. To receive one you need to be signed on to receive our posts, and leave a comment on any one of our stories from the last twelve months. In the next few days we’ll randomly select two – and if yours is chosen you’ll receive an original piece!