Meet the maker: Lara Zilibowitz

What are some of your favourite plants and why?
I’ve always been drawn to the geometric, bold and bright. Natives naturally fall under that category. Strong lines of proteas, waratahs, gymea lilies and bursts of wattle like an indigenous dot painting. 
Otherwise I absolutely adore dahlias, paper daisies and poppies... something about the explosion of petals in rich colours of dawn and dusk.
Does nature inform your ceramic work?
It most definitely does! Every functional artwork is a reminder of my connection to the natural world. Clay/mud/soil is the skin of the earth, and working with clay is a reminder that this living, breathing surface layer provides nourishment and support, as well as a final resting place, for all living creatures.
The designs that I carve on each piece are also a reminder of my connection to the cosmos. According to Eastern philosophy, the ‘mandala’ symbol is a design linking microcosm to macrocosm, a sacred geometric pattern used in the design of everything in our reality - from a cell dividing, to a flower blooming to a star exploding.
What is the crossover between your ceramic work and your yoga practice?
I approach working with clay as a form of meditation. I’ve been practicing and then teaching yoga for over ten years now and the alchemy of wheel throwing, with its effect of merging the body and mind, is remarkably analogous to my experiences on the mat.
For the first few months of learning to throw on a potter’s wheel, you struggle to centre the clay. After that, the clay begins to centre you. The clay tells you when you’re losing focus. It teaches you to stay grounded and maintain concentration. Squeeze too tightly, and it will distort, rush the process and it will spin out of control. All there is in the moment is sensation under your fingers, breath in the belly and complete presence.
Manipulating a raw piece of earth from solid to liquid state and watching it dance and come to life under your gentle but firm pressure is not just miraculous, it’s highly therapeutic.
Tell us a little about the echidnas you have made for us...
Each echidna has been shaped, decorated and painted with love, by hand. Each one is unique and no two the same. They are made out of white raku clay and glazed clear making them perfectly durable to live outside in the garden or on your windowsill.

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