Bill Cotching - Ceramic Artist

Ceramics, Soil management and research, Tasmania, Australia

Ceramic Artist, Potter, Soil Scientist

 Fire and Earth Art

The Tasmanian landscape inherently shapes my art. I like it when a place has been around for eons of time but there is a tension between geologic time and the way it looks now.

The Tasmanian landscape is my playground. I love to experience the rawness of the alpine climate and mountain landscape. A magnificently rugged, glaciated landscape of endless mountains, ancient rainforests, towering eucalypt forests, golden button grass moorlands, windswept alpine moors, deep valleys and wild rivers. My Fire and Earth Art is nurtured here.

Tasmania's extraordinary landscape has remarkable geological diversity with rocks that have been formed by uplift, faulting, folding, deformation, metamorphism and volcanism, then scoured and gouged by moving ice through repeated glaciations. Rocks from all but one geological period of the last billion years are present in Tasmania. Here, natural processes continue much the same as they have for millions of years with human impacts hopefully carefully managed.

Ideas are generated from rocks such as dolerite with its columnar jointing formed in the Jurassic that is characteristic of many Tasmanian mountains and is now revealed through the processes of erosion. Geological features were major landmarks and boundaries, and the source of stories for the Aboriginal people.

My inspiration for forms and textures comes from the geometric and angular shapes present in the surrounding geology and the geologic forces that have shaped the dolerite features prevalent in Tasmania's Central Highlands. There are elements of cubism in my sculptures and I entertain concepts of wabi sabi and futurism. My pots are a personal reflection of the natural world.

The elements of earth and fire are combined to reveal a unique fusion manifest in each pot or sculpture. The beauty of the hand-made pot lies in its imperfection that naturally develops with slightly irregular forms as I use the traditional techniques of pinching and coil work. Each piece embodies a story about creativity and being down-to-earth. Some pots are burnished by hand using a smooth beach stone to give a full lustre to the finished pot. Locally sourced seaweed and sawdust plus salt crystals are brought together in the ancient method of pit firing using locally sourced firewood to generate the necessary heat. The intensity of the fire within the pit is uncontrolled and this gives rise to the highly variable patterns, colours and effects on the surface of each object. The process is about acceptance rather than control. Look deeply for the minute details that give each pot or sculpture its character; explore it with your hands and imagine how it would inherently add soul and dimension to any space in which it is displayed. You don't have to understand why it appeals to you, but just accept it into your soul.

Watch my pit firing video

The Pit Firing Process (view

Winner TASART Fine Craft Award 2018

Winner TASART Lucia Leon , Carmen Reuter Award 2019 


Pots (view)

Sculptures (view)

Ochre painting (view)

The Perfect Pinch Pot (view)