Ruby Pilven is a Wonder Woman.
At just 24 years-old, ceramic artist Ruby shows a dedication and commitment to her craft that is radically inspirational and well beyond her years.
Ruby has a radical and colourful way with clay, and uses a fluid and layered style that is both elegant and unexpected. The real twist to Ruby’s work however lies in the intentional decorative elements - spots, stripes and the occasional brash expletive - hand painted in gold as the surprise punch that gives her work its unique energy. Of her own work Ruby explains that she wants her ceramics to ‘inject joy into everyday life, making it that little bit more fun’.
With a customer base that now includes over 30 premium stockists including Gorman, NGV Gallery Shop as well as a growing list of international stockists, Ruby is now fully focused on expanding her burgeoning ceramics business. Ruby has an amazingly down to earth and easy going way, spending most of her time in her home studio surrounded by her family and her 3 gorgeous dogs Bernard, Fran and Manny (cutely named after the Black Books Characters. Rad!).
We were lucky enough to catch Ruby on a crisp Sunday afternoon at the whimsical Mudbrick home-studio she shares with her family in Ballarat. Whilst we were there we asked her to select and style three pairs of her favourite shoes from our new range and give us some insights into her creative process.
Tell us a little about your work, what do you do? Why do you do it?
I am a ceramic artist based in Smythes Creek (just outside Ballarat) making functional and decorative porcelain art pieces. My current style of work is brightly coloured and unabashed, albeit simple in form. Audacious in bold colour patterns, striking in gold lustre highlights and distinctive in form, my style is a contemporary twist on the Japanese technique called Nerikomi (hand-building with coloured clay). The layers of abstracted colour are a controlled yet fluid manifestation of the creative act: a controlled chaos.
Having grown up with ceramicists for parents (Janine and Peter Pilven), I’ve always been surrounded by ceramics in some way, whether it was playing in the studio, watching my parents making pots, attending exhibitions or visiting fellow potter friends. I made ceramics whilst studying (Bachelor of Business Marketing /Bachelor of Visual Arts printmaking at Monash) at uni to make a little bit of money. It was more of a hobby which grew into a passion and then a business after uni. Now my ceramics acts as a creative outlet and a source of income (which is fabulous!).
Tell us about your creative process. Do you have any work rituals or habits you follow?
My creative processes are constantly evolving, which is exciting. I hand-build all my pieces from porcelain and stoneware clay bodies. There are various stages involved in what I do, so depending on what point I’m up to I’ll be either creating fresh works, glazing, decorating or firing the kiln. Creating my ceramics begins with wedging the coloured clay bodies, then flattening them out on a slab roller, creating a poetic colourful dance over the top, and then sculpting them into a particular form. The layered patterns in my work are a mixture of controlled and spontaneous movements giving my work an element of unpredictability that allows it to be recognisable yet unique each time. Revealing the final pattern is similar to printmaking - an element of surprise every time. After working in the studio from 9am until 7pm, I have dinner then make my jewellery inside while listening to music or watching TV.
I don't know if it is a work ritual but at all times in my studio, I must have Triple J on or some heavy rock metal playing…it's the way I roll, rock n roll baby!
Describe your work environment. Do you work from a studio, office, café or at home? How does the space influence you?
I am very lucky to be blessed with a home studio thanks to my lovely parents. I have slowly taken it over with my work, which thankfully they don't mind. I spend more time in the studio than in my house. For me the studio is a very special place, as I spent many hours as a child watching my parents making ceramics and it was where I started my ceramics career and passion. It is a space of nostalgia and a place where I can only truly focus, a special creative haven.
What is one thing in your life you are proud of? This can be anything, professional or personal.
I have just been chosen to make a contemporary ceramics collection for the NGV shop to coincide with the Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great . This exhibition opens on the 31st of July and is the reason why I have been living in my studio frantically making. I am very excited and proud about this opportunity.
What does being ‘radical’ mean to you?
Not being pretentious and giving a “f”. The most radical a person can be is being themselves.