Have you ever harboured secret thoughts about one day turning your Sunday afternoon hobby into a burgeoning art career? Don’t be discouraged. That’s what happened to Tracy-Jane Voss. DECO caught up with the Durban-based ceramicist to hear her story.
A Durban event organiser and production manager by trade, Tracy-Jane discovered a new outlet for her creativity when she started ceramics as a hobby in 2002. She first learned to ‘throw on the wheel’ (centering clay on a potter’s wheel) before moving on to develop skills in sculpture and coiling.
For years she kept her new love secret from the world, escaping to the studio as often as she could, ‘like a mysterious cloaked lady in romance novels’, she says. This was her private world – delicate vases, Italian painted pots, character bunnies, exquisite soap dishes and platters in fine leaf design.
Tentatively venturing into the market, Tracy-Jane’s sophisticated interior décor pieces were snapped up by upmarket décor stores, and now she boasts a fully-fledged brand of her own creation, Tracy-Jane Collection hand-made ceramics. Currently stocked all over Durban at The Artisan Gallery in Florida Road, Savior Brand Shop in Station Road and Abruzzo Merchant Company near Gateway, DECO readers from other parts of the country (and the world) keen to browse her collection, can order online on the ceramicist’s website.
Motherhood brought a new sense of fun and fantasy to Tracy-Jane’s artistic expression, and she now includes Babushka dolls, colourful koi fish and bunnies in her collection. Her Character Bunnies caused quite a stir amongst her first customers and led to her first exhibition Some Bunny Loves You. It took some time, but eventually Tracy-Jane acknowledged herself as a true artist – an inspiration for stifled artistic creatives everywhere.
How would you describe your décor style?
I guess in my own home I embrace an eclectic yet classical style by incorporating classic pieces from different cultures and combining the old with the new. In my professional art pieces I create both one-of-a-kind works that I suppose would be considered “true art” and interior décor items that are both functional and elegant.
Is there anything you dislike about the art world?
Artists who create a piece of art and then try to describe it in a philosophical and academic way, as true art speaks for itself I think.
What is your favourite piece of iconic furniture?
The Chinese Chippendale chair.
As a ceramicist, what’s your greatest inspiration?
I draw from everyday things I see around me: people, culture, characters. I also have a huge love of Chinese art and architecture. Two years ago I travelled to China for a month were I learnt Chinese ink painting; this has given me a great insight into looking at creating art in both an Eastern and Western way. Westerners see balance, line and composition completely differently to the Asians.
Where do you see your brand heading?
For the one-off art pieces I would like to see my brand worldwide in high-end interior décor shops and galleries.
What would be your dream project?
I would love to be commissioned to make a series of art pieces for a permanent installation, where they would be seen and appreciated by the public forever and not just in the hands of individual buyers.
If you could design anything for your home it would be…
…a ceramic chair of Chinese influence that would break all the laws of what clay allows you to do.