Elisa Bartels


Elisa Bartels' black fired ceramics centre around the transformational magic of firing. Through experimenting with innovative methods of decoration and refining processes, she has arrived at a body of ceramic work which is contemporary, evocative and sublime. She strives to inject subtlety and a whimsical strength into her practice, as she incorporates materials ranging from metal to plants. 

"I am propelled to explore the ephemeral cycle of nature. My work aims to capture and emulate the fleeting moments of beauty in the bloom and decay that signifies the transition of seasons and life cycle of plants. What excites me is subverting the perception that ceramics has in the broader community. and opening up a dialogue by producing works which are approachable, exciting, fun and sexy."


Images: Elisa Bartels, Ceramics, 2017. Photo: Rhiannon Hopley; Elisa Bartels, portrait, 2017. Photo courtesy of the artist


What is your 'origin story'?! Where did it all start?
I originally wanted to be a furniture designer but discovered the best course was in Tasmania. That made it difficult with a husband and family in Sydney. When I was accepted into Sydney College of the Arts they asked me what I wanted for my major. "What's on offer?" I asked. After seeing the selection I landed on ceramics and it's had me under its spell ever since that day.

Describe the last thing you made?
I just finished a black firing which meant I spent a few hours placing found leaves on my pieces and then the rest of the day monitoring the kiln firing. They looked fabulous; all a play on light and ash with very distinctive leaf prints.

Who should we be following on Instagram? Who are your favourite local makers?
I follow The Australian Ceramics Association @australianceramics for local and o/s clay inspiration and Simpson Cottage for linen goodness @simpson_cottage.

Tell us about your dream project ambitions?
I also make floating mosaics and my dreamiest of dreams is to combine black firing with my mosaics to design and make a wall hanging for a restaurant or hotel reception.

What is your favourite spot in Sydney and why?
A library, any library. I just adore books and the knowledge they hold. There is a sublime physicality to holding a book and losing yourself in its pages.