Instagram has many benefits, chief among them the possibility of stumbling across emerging Canberra creatives. That’s exactly how I came to discover Abbey Jamieson and her imperfectly perfect pinches.
From humble beginnings as a school holiday hobbyist to now a graduate with honours in ceramics, Jamieson has honed her craft and creates delightful stoneware cups that are practical and purposeful.
Look Jamieson up on Instagram, her website or anywhere else she’s been mentioned and you’re likely to find some mention of mindfulness, connection or reflection. Her work is embedded with these practices and in a fast-paced world, we need objects and ideas that foster a sense of stillness now more than ever.
Of her cups and the intention in making them, Jamieson says, “I wanted to bring comfort to the user, even if I wasn’t there to comfort them in person”.
This altruistic consideration of others was how the whole series began when Jamieson offered cups of tea to friends who were leaning on her for support.
“A fair few of my friends at the art school would come to me … there were often tears. My ‘go-to’ was a cup of tea,” she says.
“We would sit and have tea together and talk as I would make my cups. I started making cups that would sit in their hands as they sat with me.”
Aside from drawing out feelings from friends and manifesting them into a physical relic with which to hold and ponder, inspiration also drew from American-based artist Peter Pinnell.
“Pinnell spoke about how he would use some cups without engaging with the cup or the act of drinking, then would finish his tea and be surprised that it was all gone,” Jamieson says.
To some this might sound quite odd, after all the main objective in making a tea is to drink it – what’s wrong with finishing it quickly or without a care? For others, there is a deep need to savour every drop as a warm drink brings with it the prospect of rest and relaxation.
“I wanted to create a cup that required the user to engage with it. I wanted them to be aware of the moment and to be in the present rather than being caught up in the rush of life,” Jamieson says.
Mindfulness and self-love have been two philosophies that have seen a surge in recognition and practice in the recent years, and Jamieson’s cups, while cute, undertake the more serious task of tackling the ubiquitous mental illnesses of depression and anxiety.
Spending a semester abroad in Canada, at the Alberta College of Art and Design, Jamieson was often left feeling lonely and homesick. She struggled with her own experiences of depression and anxiety throughout this time and started making “blobs”, large mounds of clay to be squished, as a way of keeping her hands busy.
These “blobs” turned into Blip, her 2017 series of ceramic cups and worry stones. The title was plucked from a sentence used by a friend of the artist when discussing what she was going through; that this period of time is just a “blip” and that it would pass.
Some of the cups wobble when you place them down, others are encumbered by cragged surfaces or a rough tactile, but all bring the attention of the user back to the single experience at hand (or rather in hand).
Her latest series Interconnect was completed as her major thesis work in her final year of study at ANU. She used a soda-fired kiln as the process leaves areas of the surface untouched by the vapour, creating movement and a unique effect.
“The work is designed to focus on moments of both solitary contemplation and calm relationship. This project expanded to foster and develop relationships between a person inner and outer self,” Jamieson says.
For centuries, cultures and people have intertwined tea and ceremony, taking the simplest of life’s pleasures and attaching a greater meaning to it.
Somewhere along the way, we’ve sacrificed this desire for ease, but lost the comfort. Jamieson brings this connection back to the fore of modern day where we need it the most.