Sujata Aten: Ceramicist

What could be better than growing your own food and making the pots and plates from which to eat it?

I guess some of us might manage one or the other but artist Sujata Aten is doing both.

She has her own allotment where she grows fruit and vegetables and she also creates a range of gorgeous ceramics to use in the kitchen of her Chellaston home.

Of course that’s only if they haven’t already been snapped up by her thousands of followers on instagram where she regularly posts beautiful pictures of her work and the natural world that inspires her.

Until relatively recently Sujata, who is a member of Melbourne Arts Group, was known for her abstract landscape paintings but she wasn’t content with what she was doing and decided to change direction and try pottery.

“With my painting I was somehow feeling disconnected to nature, that is my inspiration, so I started exploring clay in order to come closer to the earth,” she explained.

“As soon as I moved back to ceramics I knew I had made the right decision. I get such a wonderful sense of satisfaction in creating an object from the earth. 

I love the idea that I am weaving a connection between land and self.”

Sujatas distinctive pinch, coil and slab pots are hand-built and therefore completely unique as no two will ever be the same. 

She even loves the randomness the kiln adds to the process and doesn’t seem to mind at all (in fact I suspect she is secretly pleased) if one or two of her creations come out wonkier than they went in.

Sujata also decorates many of her pots using stamps that she has designed and hand-carved, of iny insects, mushrooms, petals, leaves or wildlife she has seen while out on the long walks she loves in the countryside.

Those customers who have her work posted to them are also treated to her artwork on the packaging as she can’t resist decorating it.

Sujata, 45, was born and brought up in India and moved to England at the start of the new Millennium with her Dutch husband Martin. 

She attributes much of her passion for colour and cooking to her Asian roots and her experiences and memories as she travelled in her youth.

“As far as I can remember I have always been creating but when I was younger my parents encouraged me to study commerce. Once I started working and was more independent I succeeded in getting some of my paintings into an exhibition and then they started to believe in the idea of me becoming an artist.”

When she and her electrical engineer husband moved to England for his work they started a family (they have two daughters)  and she eventually took the opportunity to study Fine Art at the University of Derby from where she graduated in 2009.

“I had been painting in various mediums and exhibiting my work for 17 years when I finally persuaded Martin to let me have a kiln so I could put my energy into ceramics instead.

“Now I feel as if everything has come together for me. It is a bit like a dream that what was once, long ago, a hobby is now what I do every day.”

Sujata will be exhibiting at the Melbourne Festival arts trail on September 15 and 16. You can see more of her work on her instagram account which is @earth.and.fire

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