Irene (aka Iggy) first showed at Craft in 1995 as part of Fresh! - even then she was interested in creating home wares. Since then Irene Grishin Selzer and partner Peter Seltzer have built an empire of ceramics attracting celebrity collectors and big name collaborators (Karen Walker, Perks & Mini, Chicks on Speed) Here Irene talks to us about her experience in Fresh! and the development of her practice and the importance of collaboration.
In 1995 you were a finalist in the Fresh! exhibition, hosted at Craft Victoria at Gertrude St, tell us about the work that you made at that time and the feeling of being recognised through the graduate exhibition.
It meant a lot to me as I was experimenting with new work and to have it acknowledged at the show was fantastic. I also won the Clayworks Australia Award that nightand it was also the first time Id ever sold anything to someone I didn’t know. It was a great night and the experience encouraged me to continue working with clay.
What inspired you to become a ceramicist and how was Iggy and Lou Lou born?
I started studying ceramics at Uni because I couldn’t get into Textiles which was my first choice so I kind of fell into it that way. There was no inspiration to do it I just started it and couldn’t stop! I couldn’t believe I was allowed to play with clay all day…I also loved drawing and art history so I started drawing on clay. – I finally felt ’at home’ with something. I started Iggy and Lou Lou because I wanted to make things everyday as my job.
Making by hand is an integral process to Iggy and Lou Lou, as is using the latest in ceramic technologies, how do you successfully marry the two within your works?
The joy of making is number one, I then think about the best way to go about making something. Ceramics is such an ancient medium but new ways of doing things are constantly being developed. It’s very important to me to work in the kindest way possible to the environment so that’s where I see new technology fitting in most.
If you were to give Irene Grishin Selzer advice as she entered the world of craft in 1995 what would be your pearls of wisdom be now?
1. Don’t hide at Uni for so long, and don’t pay attention to people telling you to change your ideas.
2. Be brave and make what you really want to make regardless if you think it’s weird.
3. Don’t worry about things you can’t control.
4. Don’t be shy – Ask all the questions you need – but don’t necessarily listen to everything people have to say!
Which artists influence or inspire you?
Art and craft from numerous eras is a constant source of influence. I know that’s a very broad statement, but I can’t pin down one movement or era as THE source. I keep finding new things and ways of approaching a given medium that are hard to define. I guess the mystery of things or the mystery we imbue things is a constant source of inspiration.
You have created collaborated with Karen Walker, Perks & Mini and Chicks on Speed, who is left on your wish list and what would the project be?
I’ve got a couple on the go at the moment which are really fun and beyond that who knows…I don’t plan ahead like that. All collaborations have kind of just happened alongside my own practice and I hope they continue to happen this way.
What is the structure of your studio and your use of it (are you in a shared space, are you in the studio every day, do you outsource certain aspects of your work due to machine/space restrictions)
I used to share my work space but didn’t get a lot done! I’ve worked from home since 2003 which was out of a cupboard (literally!) and a kiln in a tin shed. Now I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful studio at the end of my garden with everything I need to make the work from start to finish. With two small children it’s perfect to have the studio at home as I have the flexibility to work odd hours. My partner works part time so we share home life and studio life. I can also often finish (or start) things at night which is handy.
Iggy and Lou Lou collectors include Mike Patton, Emily Blunt, Nicole Richie and more, did you ever imagine your work would be known on such an international level, and how did you attract this have you sought international representation?
I was very lucky to start making porcelain jewellery and home wares in a certain way that hadn’t really been explored at the time. I remember using skulls and animal imagery on jewels and homewares thinking it may not go down that well, and that it was a bit weird. But the response was more than I could have imagined. I didn’t have to do any promotion as it all just happened organically and people kept calling wanting my work. People would show me my work pictured in magazines all over the world I had no idea about. This was all before social media so it was really nice to have so much tangible glossy magazine coverage! Collaborations helped too as the designers I worked with had an international presence. Things like my work being worn in New York Fashion Week wouldn’t have happened without collaborating.