BLANK EARTH Ceramics makes unique pottery for a slow-living lifestyle, taking time to form clay by hand into pots that will serve you every day. Supatra Marsh is the maker behind BLANK EARTH. Her pottery takes inspiration from Asian ceramics and traditional handmade processes. She works on exploring surface texture and specialises in ‘kurinuki’, the Japanese art of making slowly, carving pottery from a lump of clay to produce unique, one-of-a-kind pots.
How does your creativity present itself?
Creativity normally hits me in the moments of quiet when I have time to think and daydream. I spend a lot of time thinking about the future and what changes and new experiences are in store. I work full time as a scientist in academic research in Singapore. Later this year I’ll move back to the UK to set up my studio so I can run BLANK EARTH full time. I’m trying to spend time planning for this by giving myself the space to come up with new ideas, pottery collections, and business plans I can implement in the future. I think creativity can also come from limitations, having not enough of something can force you to think creatively and usually brings about great and rewarding ideas.
What is creative about your work? As a scientist and potter?
There are many parallels between science and art. Both disciplines require you to be creative, work independently and form new ideas to make sense of the world. This is a concept I started to explore during my PhD when I curated an art/science exhibition called Art Neuro. Much of the day-to-day work as a scientist can seem very uncreative, such as following protocols and repeating tests to ensure your measurements are correct. It’s the work that goes behind this that is the fun part, forming new experiments to test an idea or adapting a way of working to serve you better.
In my pottery I work in a very similar way, first forming new concepts and ideas for my pots and then using the skills and knowledge I have to make them a reality. Of course things go wrong and you may end up with something different to what you planned, but that’s how you adapt; learn from and embrace these new discoveries. That’s the magic of both science and pottery.
What is your most used item / software / app in your work?
I treated myself to an iPad pro recently and it’s the best thing I’ve bought for my work. I use Procreate to draw illustrated instructions for others wanting to learn my pottery, create all my branding, and sketch out new ideas for ceramic collections. I edit all my photos in Lightroom which is one of the easiest to use free photo editing software. Goodnotes is awesome for taking notes, planning in my journal, and completing workbooks for any online courses I take. This has really changed the way I do my work – I used to be a die-hard paper notebook and diary girl but I love how I can keep everything in one place and still handwrite out all my notes.
What is the biggest challenge you face?
Time! I’m always over ambitious with what I think I can get done in a day and also estimating how long things take. My fiancé always laughs at how long my to-do list are and how of course I never finish them.
How do you deal with that?
This is something I am working on, being mindful to what I say yes to and ensure the things I’m dedicating my time to are worthwhile. I’m going to try out giving myself one free day a week from work and commitments, which I can use as best I see fit. This might be a time to rest, a time to work on new creative directions, or a time to catch up if I’m falling behind.
How do you top up your creative cup?
Reading, listening, learning, in all areas of life. Sometimes this can also be very
overwhelming, we are exposed to so much information, which is such a privilege, but I think it is also very important to give yourself time to take a step back, digest and reflect. It is in these times of quiet that I find my creativity flooding back, I always think it’s funny how little time we let ourselves be alone with our thoughts.
What podcast / book / person would you recommend to another creative freelancer?
I’ve followed Sara Tasker for a while and she has a great podcast called Hashtag Authentic all about Instagram. I also recently read You’re Not Broke You’re Pre-Rich by Emilie Bellet, which was an informative and easy read all about how to manage and talk about money – I
have one word - pensions!