Emma Bartik came to her ceramics practice in a bit of a roundabout way. Spending the last decade as a successful freelance makeup and special effects artist, she initially studied ceramics at UNSW Art and Design as a way to improve her sculpting for making prosthetic pieces. For Emma, these two creative pursuits are inextricably linked. ‘I can’t separate my art or ceramic practice from my work as a makeup artist now even if I tried’, she explains. ‘It has informed the way I make, both technically and conceptually.’
After producing a small collection of pieces for an exhibition just over a year ago, Emma made an on-the-spot decision to throw herself into making ceramics. Shortly after, Emma launched Voluptuary Ceramics. Her curvaceous, pot-bellied mugs and vases have a distinctly humanlike quality to their brightly coloured forms – right down to a belly button-like indentation in their rounded midsections. An exploration of fragility and what it means to be feminine underscores Emma’s work, a palette of sorbet pastels and fluffy, visceral textures offering an element of escapism and whimsy.
Working from her spare room in Sydney (which she’s almost outgrown), Emma now works on Voluptuary Ceramics (almost) full time – and even landed her first exhibition at a commercial gallery, Saint Cloche, last year. ‘The possibilities of making in ceramics is its own addictive labyrinth’, Emma says. ‘As a makeup artist, I could spend weeks of preparation of hours and applying makeup, only to wash it off moments later. Ceramics has a tangible nature with an end result that exists in the real world’.