Sarana Haeata is an artist who is constantly pushing herself and her practice beyond her comfort zone. Over the summer my photographer friend Rhianna and I visited her backyard studio housed in an old train carriage. Yes, you read correctly – a train carriage!!
Before she begun working with clay Sarana’s art practice predominantly centred around illustration and painting. This gives her a unique approach to ceramics and the resultant work is playful and vibrant as well as functional.
With her daughter Ivy on her hip she talked us through the process of slip casting and painting each pot. Between cups of tea and slices of watermelon, we discussed where she sources inspiration, recent creative collaborations and snatching moments for her practice between play and nap times.
How did you get started with ceramics?
I’m completely self taught. I started because I was working in a homewares store that had lots of beautiful ceramics, but I couldn’t afford any of them. My dad’s an art teacher and I was showing him the range in the store and he said he could show me the very basics to get me started. I’m still learning.
I know you’re also a visual artist, why the move into working with clay?
Yes, I used to do a lot more illustration and painting. I got a bit disillusioned with exhibiting and the art world. I decided I just wanted to make functional objects that I could sell and (laughs) make money from as well. That was part of it.
How did you come up with the name Hang With Me?
When I first started doing pottery I tried a lot of different things. I went through a period of testing and experimenting and at the end I decided I wanted to do hanging pots.
What’s the appeal of hanging pots for you?
I really like indoor plants. And I guess at the time there wasn’t a lot of indoor hanging pots available. In the last year that’s really taken off. Also, because I was just starting out with pottery I didn’t feel as confident with mugs and tableware. I wanted to keep it simple and focus on the painting and design.
How do you go about designing your range?
My main interest is the painted designs on the pots rather than the vessels themselves, probably because I’m coming from an illustration background. So I wanted something that was functional and had enough surface area for me to paint something on it. Essentially that’s were the shape of each design comes from. I wanted it to be something functional and special.
Your backyard studio is housed in a beautiful re-purposed train carriage – what’s the story?
I used to have a studio in a shared space in Freo. It got too difficult with babies and finding time to leave the house to go and work. At the moment getting out to the studio for short periods is much easier.
When we bought this house I was looking in to sea containers and then we found this on Gumtree from a guy up in the Swan Valley. It was in perfect condition, completely watertight. The guy had it on the back of his truck already. We dumped it in the garden the day that we got the keys.
Where do you find inspiration for the painted patterns and graphics on your pots?
I wanted to do things on ceramics that people wouldn’t necessarily expect to see. There’s a stigma attached to ceramics in the art world – they’re seen as functional, so not necessarily ‘art’.
Part of me wanted to take away that stigma and put young, fresh designs on them that would appeal to me or my friends. Bright, poppy imagery. This might have originally come from my naivety about ceramics. No preconceived ideas about what I ‘should’ be doing.
What’s next for you and Hang With Me?
Next I want to go a bit further with exploring illustration and ceramics. I’d like to put together an exhibition that’s artwork on ceramic tiles or platters. I’d like to move in to some more art-based stuff.
I also want to do more collaborations with exciting people. I’m doing one now with Rose Megirian of Many Peaks Assembly. She has a design background and works mostly with textiles. We’re working on a plant stand together, I’ve been working on a cone shaped pot to sit in the stand.
Thanks so much to Sarana and Ivy for having us! You can find Hang With Me pots and vessels on Sarana’s Etsy store and select Perth stockists.