Meet The Maker : Rae Collected
Introducing, Ella the youngest creative in a long line of women within her family tree. This 24 year old Taurian channels her earth connection into her work by taking inspiration from the great outdoors.
Learning from the best, her Noni (grandmother) and acclaimed ceramic artist Alison Rae Brown, Ella and her sister were taught to look to nature for creation, exploring a life lived between the hills and the coast.
Though creating since childhood, Ella lost touch with art of ceramics only coming back to the clay when her mental wellness needed focus.
Today, we catch up with Ella to chat about her creative journey, her inspiration and goals for the future. Enjoy!
How was Rae Collected born?
I actually studied occupational therapy. I did that for four years and then I graduated and worked in paediatrics for two years. But in the last year of my uni degree I lost my sister unexpectedly in an accident. That really threw my whole world and my balance off.
I made a decision in December of 2019 to quit my job and focus on myself; essentially take a year off. Until this point I hadn’t taken a gap year, I just went straight from school to uni, uni to work and within all of this I began to question the meaning of life.
Initially I felt a lot of judgment for taking time off and I had questions from people. But I stuck true to myself knowing it’s what I needed to do for me. I came off antidepressants last year, so last year for me was massive as it was for many, and I genuinely don’t think I could have done those things in a regular nine to five job
Rae Collected was born out of a place of need. A need for me to take the time out. I made a decision and ran with it. I didn’t and still don’t compare myself to others, or their businesses, or anyone else’s experiences. I had to keep coming back to my why, and I don’t regret it at all. It’s been the best decision to take the time off and explore my creativity and heal myself from the inside out.
Have you always been a creative person?
Yes and no. As an adult I’d never really had, or given myself the opportunity to explore it. In my year off I started to feel into my creativity again which has always been deep down in me, and with all the time off I started painting, writing more, drawing, journaling, cooking, experimenting with more whole and sustainable food practices. I even started fermenting and growing cultures.
From there I started selling some paintings to help me pay the rent. Whilst it came from a place of need, my bigger need was my own mental health journey. Luckily enough I’d always been a really strict saver so I was able to quit my job and go inwards.
I mean people spend – and I have done too – tens of thousands of dollars on a Europe trip, ‘so why can’t I spend a portion of my savings to help support myself?’ I thought. It came with letting go of the anxiety that used to come with dipping into my savings.
What are your key lessons from your experience so far that you could shed light on for other aspiring creatives?
I’ve learnt a lot about myself in the past year. One thing I do now is write things down. It’s not something I’ve always done. I have always kept a to – do list helps me stay in check to help keep me in check. But at the start of last year I wrote a big list of all the small things I’ve wanted to achieve. For example some of those were to go and see the Black Diamond Lake in Collie, learn how to make kombucha, and start learning how to surf.
These were pretty mellow things, but they’re things that fill my cup and I forgot about that list for a time. But it was something I could return to when I needed to gain some perspective and focus for this new change.
I think it’s a great thing to do for your own practice and awareness. Just go ‘hey, these are some things I’d like to do in my life, and if I can fit them in then that will keep my cup full. I think these sorts of things keep you connected to your direction and your drive as well as filling you with a sense of achievement as well.
It’s really nice to reflect and know even when it’s been really tough there have been moments of small achievement. I can now just stand up on the white water or baby wave, but I keep breaking my toe which doesn’t help! I’ll be rolling surfing over into my 2021 goals.
How many of the other goals did you tick off the list, and what’s on your list this year?
It’s funny you ask. I’ve actually tried looking everywhere for that list into the new year and absolutely cannot find it. I suspect it was lost somewhere between moving houses over the last year. I mostly lived out of boxes for a portion of last year so it wouldn’t surprise me.
Oh well, maybe i don’t need it anymore. But here is a small notes list of some general bullet points from last year (right).
I pretty much did everything except sign up to a formal art class. That was on my list, but I just ended up learning myself, watching others, researching, and going down south to learn from my Noni.
Looking at that list it seems you take a lot of inspiration from nature, can you tell us about how it inspires you?
I love the ocean, being out in nature, all that sort of thing. I grew up in the hills, so always had a fair bit of space and trees around our place which was really nice. We grew up going bushwalking as a family, and often my mum would take us to visit my grandmother who moved to Dunsborough. So my sister and I grew up with that balance of nature.
Whenever I feel average, I know if I go for a swim in the ocean or ground in the grass I always feel better for it. Nature is definitely an inspiration for me.
Taking inspiration from nature and treading gently in life, how does Rae Collected keep a sustainable footprint?
The cool thing is I was taking on my own mindful and sustainable practices before dabbling in Rae Collected, which meant how I walked in the world in my personal life flowed into my business.
When I had the year off I had an epic at home fermentation station where I made my own booch and kefir, and I started to become more aware of my own footprint so that naturally shaped my business. Working from my garage at home also helps. Having a mindful home influences what you do as a business anyway.
Pottery itself is pretty sustainable. Yes, the bag of clay is plastic. But within that bag there can be up to 100 pieces I can create. So that’s pretty cool being able to make all that I can using the resources. As well, I like to reuse where I can, and the nature of the clay allows me to do this. To avoid it cracking or warping in the heat, I reuse this packaging to cover the clay and slow down the drying process.
As well, the art itself is quite minimalist. You don’t use that many things in the process of creating a piece. You use your hands to shape, you fire it in a kiln, and then you have a piece that lasts you forever.
How has it been received by the Summer X Salt community?
I applied for the market without having made a huge amount of pottery before that, and now it’s my day job. It’s been so well received. People really have been beautiful and loving and supportive. I never started this in search of that, but the fact that I can fill my cup and create something that’s appreciated is honestly a bonus.
How do you stay motivated to create when there’s stagnation?
It’s still fairly new, so I’m still figuring out what works the best for me. Sometimes motivation is hard, but going back to lists and writing things down is a big help. But mostly it’s the women in my life who are my biggest motivators.
My Grandma is a ceramic artist, and she’s the one I learnt pottery from ever since I was a tiny kid. My mum is an artist as well, but her passion is in woodwork. And my sister was an artist as well and the person who introduced to the Summer x Salt community years ago now.
Do you feel connected with your sister when you’re creating?
I think so, though initially I didn’t want to attach it to that because I’m doing this for me. For me personally, sometimes it can be unhealthy to attach it to that. So I’m pretty firm in that this is part of my own journey and exploration. But within that I have had a lot of time in my mindful making zone to connect and work through my grief.
But really it’s my grandma who’s taught (and continues to teach) me everything I know. I spent a summer working down south and living with her as an adult. That’s really what got me playing with clay again. I like stamping things into my clay because it reminds me of my childhood with her. She’d always grab shells and stamp anything coastal into her pieces.
So it’s not only a reconnection to my childhood but also a connection with her. She’s one of my biggest inspirations, I can call her with anything. So it’s sort of a new thing but I’ve also been doing pottery my whole life and that playful mindfulness is so important in the creative process.
It seems you moved into 2020 intentionally, what’s your intention or do you have a word for 2021?
Well I had big intentions for this year, but my partner and I were actually involved in a car crash over the new year. Which you can imagine brought up a lot for me. We’re very lucky to be alive though, and so my intention now is to take one day at a time, massive gratitude, a shift in perspective and trying to realign and refocus.
I’m not one to have a five year plan, but I think I’ll be riding the wave each day for a bit. Having said that I do need routine, focus and mini goals to help me stay grounded.
This year they’re to:
– Re-do senior first aid
– own a kiln
– start exercising regularly
– get back into healthy eating and effective/efficient cooking
– learn and experience the art of yoga
– integrate occupational therapy back into my life
I’ll keep adding to the list as I think of things whilst I’m regaining direction.