Conversations in Clay with Greg Yeaman
(written by Cath Ennis)
I met with Greg on a perfect Autumn day in 2015, in his studio in Knoxfield. Greg’s studio is a recent addition. Built onto his garage last year, he was fortunate to find the same bricks used to build the house, and you could be forgiven for thinking that it was part of the original dwelling. It overlooks a recently planted garden and when the door is up the gorgeous autumn sun streams in. Although quite small it’s a perfect place for working; neat, orderly, and functional. Nothing like the space I work in.
Greg mainly throws functional ware on his wheel and sells at markets. He enjoys going to markets but more particularly, selling his work enables him to clear the shelves to make way for further practicing. He doesn’t yet consider himself to be a ‘real’ potter as he is still learning the basics. When you look at his work however there is clearly attention to detail, evenness in the construction, and it is clear that he is making good progress. Greg is currently working on some larger pieces for the Tree Fern Potters exhibition and it seems to me that these demonstrate how far he has come.
When he retired Greg wanted to take on a new challenge. In 2011 he went in search of a teacher to begin his journey with clay and started classes with Lynda Kent who was then working in Ferntree Gully. He is still going strong, and indeed, in 4 years has come a long way. This is a testament to his commitment to learning about and improving on his processes He still seeks advice from ‘professionals’, including his original teacher, but also seeks out places to work that provide access and connection to other people who are skilled in clay. He is humble in his own opinion of his work, but pleased with what he has achieved.
As we chat Greg shows me a photo of himself from the 1980’s sitting at a wheel apparently throwing a cylinder. The photo was taken at a friend’s pottery near Toowoomba and Greg is very certain that he didn’t throw that cylinder, but we wonder together about whether this experience has anything to do with his current venture.
Greg also shows me a vase that he has made for his granddaughter. He tells me that, on a recent visit, she asked if he could make something for her and this drawing was the result. Of course Greg replied “yes”, and here it is in front of me, waiting to be glazed. What a truly lovely gift; both the fact that she was able to imagine and request such an item from her “Pop”, and that he is able to create it for her. There is a family story in the making here. I can imagine her in 40 years telling her own children about how as a young girl she asked her “Pop”- their great grandfather- to make it for her, and how he went away and did just that. What a lucky girl. What a beautiful story.
I leave Greg and his new studio with an admiration for his commitment to improvement through practice and refinement of his processes, and I wonder about how that family story will be written.