Embracing imperfection with ceramicist Mahlia Senaratne
CH-V chats with the creator of ‘Messy by Mahlia.’
Mahlia Senaratne is the creator behind ‘Messy by Mahlia ceramics. Originally from Kabi Kabi land (the Sunshine Coast), she now resides on Bundjalung land (Byron Bay). A self-taught ceramicist, Mahlia lovingly handcrafts each piece using sustainable and eco-friendly materials. She feels lucky to be able to call this one of her jobs and is constantly learning and growing through this beautiful medium.
Why and when did you start your creative journey?
I’ve been creative ever since I was a kid. Most of my family are quite creative so I had that constant influence. I started my journey with ceramics in late 2019 and have fallen in love ever since. I love the way creating makes me feel, I feel connected to my family and myself. I also love how much I learn, about myself and the art. I am constantly evolving and growing through this medium.
Can you describe the emotion of your art?
I would describe my art as multifaceted. My style is forever changing and evolving. My emotions play a big part in my creative process. I decided to call my ceramics brand ‘messy’ because I love vessels that are unique and different. Lot’s of my work is imperfect but that’s what I love about them the most, the fact that they are a little wonky with dimples and character. To me, that makes them beautiful.
How has creative expression allowed you to survive and thrive?
Art has become such a safe space for me, it has pulled me out of some really dark times, given me a distraction and a place to express myself without having to use words. It has also been there for me in some of the best times. It is such a beautiful thing; being able to articulate your ideas through form and colour. Using clay straight from the earth is such a therapeutic practice; it’s not only connecting you to nature, but it is teaching you to sit still, process, express and create something so beautiful through your thoughts and emotions.
How do you get into your creative workflow?
I like to think of myself as a somewhat organised person. To get into my creative workflow, I have a small routine I like to do. It usually goes something like this. Firstly, write a list of work that I need to prioritise. Then I put on some music or a podcast. I love having all the windows open in my studio for natural light and air flow, I’m also convinced that it helps me think better. I fill up a big bottle of water to have beside me, then I’m ready to start getting messy (pun intended). It’s a simple list but it seems to be working so far.
What do you hope the observer/ listener absorbs from your art?
The main thing I hope that people take away from my ceramics is that it’s okay for things to not be perfect. That they can in fact be different, playful, go against the norm and still have depth and be beautiful. I hope when people look at my art it brings them joy and maybe even encourages them to start their own journey with this incredible outlet.