Q&A with Carol Russell

Q&A with Carol Russell

We recently caught up with Brisbane-based artist Carol Russell who’s featuring in our upcoming Marketplace exhibition. Born in Tasmania, Carol grew up surrounded by people making beautiful things inspired by the pristine landscape.


After moving to Brisbane in the mid-80s, she was determined to work with timber and set out to learn everything she could about working with the material. Carol’s on-going interest in timber has led her from furniture making and antique restoration to making small spoons and wooden vessels for serving food. We recently spoke to Carol about how she fuses craft and food in her work.

 

Do you create your spoons and bowls with a specific food for them to be used with in mind, and if so how does this affect your creative process?

The creation of a bowl or spoon usually begins with me selecting a piece of timber I like. The grain is a big determiner in how the design takes shape. However there is a functional element also. The item needs to feel good to use and the colour complement and enhance the food.


Could you tell us a little more about your relationship with food? Does it tie in at all with your craft practice?

I love to cook and use good quality ingredients, I am always mindful of the craft that goes into producing quality food and have enormous respect for the producers. I make things that I like to use and will provide a complimentary canvas to present even the simplest offering.


Do you use them functionally yourself at home and if so what are your thoughts on that experience?

Yes, I can’t help myself, even if its just grabbing a simple board from the workshop to serve cheese on. The combination of wood and food is just so satisfying to me. I particularly love woods that come from trees that produce food such as olive, nut and fruit trees.


What value do you see crafted tableware and related items as having for the experiencing of food?

I think it sets a tone of quality and creates the anticipation of something special and unique. It also slows people down and encourages them to observe and appreciate detail. This is a great mindset for someone about to experience handmade produce.


What do you see the relationship between craft and food production to be?

I think they are highly complementary and two sides of the same coin. Food production is a craft. To me it’s all about reworking materials or ingredients to create something beautiful that gives sustenance, pleasure and exhibits ingenuity.


Do you think artisan food production should be considered a part of the crafts movement?

I like that idea. Artisan food and craft both require the producer to have a combination of traditional technical skills, creativity and a good understanding of their materials.


How do you think the current growing interest in artisan food and drinks relates to craft today?

I believe there is a massive rise of interest amongst the population in all things handmade. I think the lines of distinction are being blurred and artisan food is a great way for craft to reach more people. I think artisan food could be the new ambassador for craft and bring it into more people’s lives.


Image credit: Spoons by Carol Russell and organic miso by Sasakani Kobo. Photo by Jaala Alex.

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