HILLS ARTIST JENNA COLLINS ON TRANSFORMING EARTH, WATER, AIR AND FIRE INTO ART
WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY | Mark Fergus
Potter and handcrafter Jenna Collins had been travelling the world from the age of 19, carrying as little as possible, craving a life in nature. After returning to Australia she stopped at a communal farm and orchard in Mareeba, in far north Queensland, where she camped and lived off-grid, working at a farmers market. In her spare time she delved into handcrafts and it was here she was drawn to experiment with ceramics.
She recalls, “I walked to the lake, on the farm, which was lined with clay, collected some in buckets and carried it back to camp to teach myself the art of primitive pottery. I processed the clay using nets as strainers to make it as fine as I could, then moulded it into some bowl shapes. I dug a pit in the ground, lit a fire within it and buried the pottery inside to fire over roughly nine hours, raising the heat slowly and then continually stoking and maintaining the fire.” This technique is pit firing and the results can be gloriously serendipitous. By creating those first pieces from scratch, Jenna was following in the path of ancient potters as they realised the vast potential in humble clay.