Who are you?
My name is Alana Wilson and I am a Sydney-based artist working primarily in ceramic. I was born in Australia and grew up in New Zealand. These two environments were intrinsic to my upbringing and how I perceive the world.
My practice mostly consists of investigations into the environment, history and the passage of time and the ways in which these factors can be sensed or felt through surface, material, scale or physical presence.
Your work is inherently tactile. Do you see connections between your creations and the forms/textures that occur naturally in
Tactility, physicality and presence are all elements that I observe in nature and attempt to bring into my work and practice. The nature of the process of ceramics—using clay bodies in conjunction with minerals and oxides for glazing, then putting that material through a firing process—is very much a metamorphic process, with glazing perhaps echoing an igneous process that is not dissimilar to the formation and constant changing we see in the Earth’s crust.
How do you care for yourself? Do you practice any daily rituals?
Being an early riser, a coffee is normally the first ritual of the day. I have a morning routine and an evening routine which both help me to awaken and wind down for the day respectively. I recharge best when in solitude so I always make sure I have enough time for thinking, writing, reading and recovering throughout the day.
How important is it to you to be connected with the natural world on a daily basis?
Living close to the beaches and coast in Sydney, the natural world is spacious and elemental. It provides vast space to escape to, allowing opportunities to daydream and wonder. I spend a lot of time in and around the water which is an important way to feel connected to my own individual essence. I find the patterns and rhythms of where I live easy to read—tides, winds, moons, storms are great precursors to know what to expect in the hours and days ahead, which I find comforting.
How does the natural world influence your creative process?
Spending long stretches either walking or driving in nature is a tool I use to let trains of thought develop, as well as to daydream and wonder. Amid unguided thought, I gain a sense of the physical surroundings—light through trees, the formation of a wave, a bird hovering on an easterly wind—down to the minutest details of a shell or two bugs fighting on the path below. I believe once we have the will or ability to notice the world around us, we start to notice more in daily life and can see the interconnectedness of things, ideas, patterns, emotions and behaviours. I don’t believe creativity and life are separate in any way, more so that a creative mind is able to see connections where others may not.
What does it mean to you to be well? Is your own state of wellbeing inextricably connected to your connection with nature?
I believe the core of human nature and humanity are intertwined with the natural world. By taking the time to connect to the natural world or our own individual essence, we gain a sense of balance and reciprocity with the world we inhabit and contribute to.
We live in a society that is increasingly disconnected from the natural world, how important do you think a meaningful connection with nature is on both a personal and community level?
I believe it is important to maintain a meaningful connection with not only the natural world but also our individual natures. It can be so easy to be misled from our true nature, our essence, as well as the essence of the time, place and environment we live in and contribute to. I think it is important we learn to live within our means and not attempt to live beyond our means or in extreme states of wealth and delusion. Life can be really simple if we want it to be.
When and how do you feel most fulfilled?
I feel most fulfilled when I’m bringing ideas into reality—not just creative ideas but contributing in ways that benefit the world around me. Outside of my studio practice, I also teach and coach swimming, which provides me with great fulfilment, especially when I feel I am contributing to my students’ progression and evolution.
What wisdom does the natural world provide
Acceptance. Particularly the acceptance of seasons, undulations, and change.
The value of silence and spaciousness.
The importance of presence.
When feeling disenchanted, how do you return to yourself?
It has been really easy to feel disenchanted with the world lately—I worry about the direction that some of our choices and habits are leading us in. I will generally take a step back and make sure that what I am doing as an individual is working toward a better world. Then I believe it is taking advantage of moments where you have the opportunity to encourage or support others to work toward a better world together.