The potter’s hand: Kim Aitken's ceramic ware

Detail of blue bowls and plates by Kim Aitken

“My work is organic in shape. It has an eclectic and colourful style that celebrates our wonderful Australian lifestyle.” - Kim Aitken

If you’ve enjoyed a meal at BOOKPLATE, chances are you have also experienced the wonderful ceramic ware created by potter, Kim Aitken. In 2015, we undertook to reimagine BOOKPLATE, from the light fittings and wall colours all the way down to the tableware.

We were immediately drawn to Kim’s gorgeous ceramics, knowing they would bring a new and different dimension to the dining experience at BOOKPLATE. Beautifully shaped bowls and plates in a deep, rich denim blue make for a refreshing change from your standard white dinnerware, while petite sugar bowls with hand-shaped lids grace every table.

Kim’s work has been described as “beautiful and functional”, while bringing life to spaces through a rich colour palette.

We think you’ll agree Kim’s ceramic ware sets the perfect backdrop for BOOKPLATE’s food. For us, it’s all about making your meal not just a feast for the tummy, but also for the eyes.

Techniques and inspiration

Kim's beautiful ceramic ware contrasts beautifully with a floral arrangement in a table setting for a special occasion

"I was very lucky to have some great teachers when I studied, so am able to put my hand to a few different techniques,” says Kim.

To create her wares, she works with slip cast and hand-building techniques to create individual functional tableware and vessels. She favours Australian mid-fire clay for its strength, functionality and colour response. Each piece is painted with underglaze (colour) and then glazed by hand. She tends to incorporate some hand building and slab building techniques and occasionally throws her creations on the wheel.

Kim takes a great deal of inspiration from the natural environment. Combining colour, texture and pattern is one of her favourite decorative techniques and she sees the influence of colour and pattern everywhere she looks.

“Anywhere there is movement, shape, colour and texture. Flower gardens, the built environment, the coastal landscape. Fresh fashion and textiles also interest me”.

Patterns and colours add life

The denim swirl pattern of this plate really sets off the food

When Kim incorporates patterns to enhance her pieces, they are produced using transfer papers fired to 1240 degrees Celsius. The resulting colours on the white clay are vivid and true, and the end product is attractive, strong tableware. There is a real handmade tactile quality to Kim’s pieces—you can imagine her moulding the delicate curves and the colours are natural and beautiful. She also works with mediums such as porcelain, stoneware and earthenware finishing some pieces with decorative Japanese transfers and original ceramic decals.

A bit about Kim

Kim formally studied Visual Arts (Ceramics) and has worked full time in her ceramics studio in Pottsville, a seaside village in northern NSW, for the last six years.

A passion for the simple things in life (a swim in the ocean, a good book, a walk with a friend) is reflected in the strong simplicity of her work, which features strong colours, simple shapes and functional ceramics.

She finds intrigue in clay, which challenges her both artistically and scientifically.

“It is physically demanding yet somehow meditative. Working with clay requires patience and knowledge and there are variables within the process you cannot control, so it is a wonderful feeling when work is completed with success.”

We're extremely proud to be using Kim's beautiful wares at BOOKPLATE and supporting such a talented Australian ceramicist.

Check out more of Kim’s work on her Insta. You can also enjoy her wares at BOOKPLATE (and our sister cafe POLLEN), and they’re available to buy at the Handmade Canberra markets.

Just to tempt you further, there’s a small selection of Kim’s gorgeous ceramic bowls, vases and adorable patterned milk bottles (seriously, check them out, they're adorable!) available at the NLA Bookshop.

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