WOMEN OF NOTE:
Samantha McIntyre | The Soda Fountain
There is a subtle exuberance about the work of Samantha McIntyre. Black and white checks are hand-painted upon hand-built bowls, spilling over edges and around to cover them whole. Their shapes refuse to bend into the smoothly rounded forms we have come to expect bowls to be. Despite their subdued colouring, they’re completely joyful — giving way to a feeling reminiscent of receiving a playful wink from a passing stranger. They know something that we do not, or perhaps this is simply the magic of their maker. Although she isn’t formally trained, it couldn’t matter less, the artist’s work remains in high demand to adorn the homes of her fellow Melbourne friends and beyond. From her own home that doubles as a studio, Samantha tells more about how her signature pieces came to be and finding the silver linings of life in lockdown.
Dressed in the 03 walnut set, Samantha invites us into her home in Fitzroy
Location: Fitzroy, Melbourne
Date: 8/9/20 Time: 7.14pm
Where are you from and where are you now?
Born and raised on the Gold Coast but have been living in Melbourne the last 4 years.
Can you tell us a little about your home, what is the view like?
It’s a little unconventional in that it’s a 3 story, part residential, part commercial house. My room looks out onto the city on the top floor with the sun setting to my hard right. I can currently smell the jasmine wafting through my open window.
Are you a morning or evening person?
A night owl through and through.
You’re an artist who works between the mediums of painting and ceramics, how long have you been practicing as an artist?I studied Textile Design at RMIT three years ago, which was my introduction to painting. Since then, I used painting as my outlet for my depression. Ceramics came two years later and have been in love with sculpting clay for just over a year now.
There is a common theme that runs through your bodies of work: the humble check. What is the significance of this recurring checkered pattern?
Ah! Well I made my first checkered bowl in May 2019. I lost my grandfather several years ago and he was one of my favourite people on this earth. We used to play chess together when I was young. For some reason, I couldn’t stop daydreaming about us playing chess, and because I'm slightly obsessive with my thoughts, I began to only see checks for months! That's when I made my first bowl. Afterwards, it became a sort of meditation as well as obsession. I made another bigger bowl and then a beautiful friend wanted one and then another friend. That was basically the catalyst of my practise. My obsession spilled over into my friends wants and their friends, and so forth... it feels like a beautiful game of Chinese whispers, only no one mixes the words.
The ceramic vessels you make are instantly recognisable by their wavering forms, not subscribing to the generic aesthetics of everyday homewares. What inspires and informs your ceramics?
I suppose because I never had extensive training in ceramics I’ve never mastered the art of a perfectly sculpted vessel. To be honest, I’ve never really been drawn to perfection though and when I’m building a bowl or a cup, I don’t think, I just let my mind wander and my hands do the talking. I love when a bulge hangs over and the top is slanted to the side. Just as humans are each unique, I feel my ceramics should be also.When I’m glazing a dried bowl in the checks, I have to follow the contours and warps of the bowl or it just looks extremely wrong and forced. It’s absolutely meditative when I’m figuring out which way each square is going to follow. That’s why you get the really oblong rectangles and the cutest mini squares all in one vessel.
Where your vessels are generally black and white, colour runs freely in your paintings. Can you tell us more about the painting element of your practice?
My paintings are generally my feelings spilling forth. Proverbial vomit of my soul if you will. I love black and white but only in my very dark moods will I gravitate towards neutral shades. Even when I’m feeling sad, I tend to use more blues and soft pinks rather than black and white.
Have you made any artworks that you refuse to let go of?
Two, one is an abstract self portrait from 2018. The other is a burst of colour with a checkered border.
Outside of making art, what other things fill your time? I believe you dabble in beekeeping?
I do! I adore beekeeping. I began almost 3 years ago and it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done. I also love reading when I can or watching films galore. Getting out of the city and traipsing through long grass or looking for koalas is lovely. Going to a restaurant with friends and eating and drinking too much is also a big love of mine. Coffee and pastry dates — I miss those.
How have you been coping with the lockdowns in Melbourne? Has it affected your creativity?
I’ve been handling it considerably well. I am a big introvert, as well as dealing with depression so for me, the stay at home is good for me. My creativity has flourished with not competing for my time due to work, which is nice. I haven’t painted in a while but whether that's from the cold winter or a subconscious loathe of the lockdown, I’m unsure.
Spending so much time at home must feel a little monotonous by now, but have you found a new appreciation for any particular part of your home?
It certainly was feeling that way, but spring has really begun kicking in and our outdoor patio is seeing a lot of action! We have the most amazing jasmine archway leading up to this and sitting under this, drinking coffee/wine, reading or simply laying under is dreamy. I’ve also started glazing out there just to escape my bedroom which is also my studio.
What have you been reading, listening to and watching?
Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities
Steve Lacy / Solange or the 7am Podcast
His Dark Materials, Dark & I just started Euphoria which I'm loving.
Have there been any recipes you’ve been returning to of late? If so, would you like to share one with us?
I’m a creature of habit and basically I’ve been eating the Tuna Pasta almost every night this year...yes, I know, I'm weird.
- Spaghetti (or pasta of your choice) Garlic
- Tuna in olive oil
- 1 can tinned tomatoes of your choice.
1. Cook the pasta in a pot until al dente
2. Chop finely the garlic, chilli and dice the zucchini, saute in pan until golden.
3. Add the tomatoes and tuna and simmer until perfect. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
4. Serve with fresh basil or simply cheese and a splash of olive oil.
How do you stay grounded?
Weekly catch ups with my family over the phone.
What do you do to unwind?
Wine, a good vacuum session, rubbing lavender oil on temples with deep breaths. Depends on the situation. Mostly wine.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and would like to pass on?
That’s a really tough one... I’ll go with: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” - Eleanor Roosevelt (discovered on The Princess Diaries). Bullies are real and the more you believe this, the less they can affect you. Easier said than done but it’s a good one to remember.
What do you dream of when you sleep?
My dreams are wild. If I could recall them explicitly, I'd be a Hollywood film producer in either horror or sci-fi.
Interviewed by Chloe Borich for Deiji Studio’s Field Notes