Marle Woman: Jaime Jenkins

Marle Women is created to celebrate our philosophy of designing pieces for women of all ages and stages of their lives. Each feature profiles a woman we admire and we hope each interview inspires you the same way in which these women inspire us.

We recently chatted with Mount Maunganui based sculptor, Jaime Jenkins. Jaime spoke to us about her craft, where she finds her inspiration and what she's currently working on.

Please share a little bit about yourself, your upbringing and any defining moments that lead you to where you are today...

I am a sculptor predominantly working with clay. I live on the coast of Mount Maunganui with my studio nearby in the Ohauiti hills. I grew up in a large family with my mum homeschooling us all. Through my childhood years I would wake up early to complete my school work as soon as possible so I could spend the remainder of the day outside. We built huts in many forms - decorating them with treasures of moss and glass bottles found from me and my brother's excavations (we truly believed we could dig through the centre of the earth), and spent hours exploring the expansive tidal world of the mudflats down the bank from where we lived.

This period of my life I can now see has had a significant influence in my practice. I started working with clay in my late teens and found the most impactful times of my learning were the internships I spent with other artists and potters. From helping with wood firings on the outskirts of Paeroa, to assisting artist Francis Upritchard hand stitch hats and sculpt balata dinosaurs for a summer in London 2014, these diverse experiences I found to be extremely helpful in upskilling my craft.

We read an article that once said you ‘push the definitions of what clay can and should do’.Can you talk us through your approach to your practice and how you have defined your unique form?

I am full of curiosity about what I can make with clay. I have often felt an urge to create my own ceramic versions of things, which has led me to make work that explores both sculpture and functionality. I would say that I have developed my unique form through years of working with this medium and in doing so encountering challenges which insist on a lot of problem solving and experimentation in order to move forward. My forms are continuously evolving and I am sure they will for years to come.

What initially drew you to pottery and where do you get inspiration for the pieces you create?

I quickly fell in love with working with clay as I found it to be a very grounding yet expansive medium. The glazes are a magic part for me also. I have always loved experimenting with the depth and richness of colour and the unexpected results that the final firing can bring. Inspiration comes to me through my surroundings in nature, conversations, music, books, visiting galleries and museum’s - whether an old weaving or beautifully built furniture, I love seeing work made from other times and places.

What do you hope people will see, feel and think when they view your pieces?

My hope is that the viewer takes from my work what they need to. Whether it is just in a moment or lingers.

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions?

I am working toward a show with Jhana Millers at the Aotearoa Art Fair, which will be held this coming November. I am also working towards a collaborative exhibition with Séraphine Pick which we will show next year.

  "Inspiration comes to me through my surroundings in nature, conversations, music, books, visiting galleries and museum’s - whether an old weaving or beautifully built furniture, I love seeing work made from other times and places"

You often do artist residences at Driving Creek, can you please share a little about these experiences?

As timing has it, I am currently at Driving Creek for a short residency. I feel very grateful for the times I have spent here over the years, working alongside a wide range of artists, making, woodfiring, and cooking delicious meals together. In the summer we end each working day going swimming along the coast or in nearby rivers. Now, as it’s winter, we are enjoying the open fireplace in the kitchen. There is something special about living and working in a communal space and being a part of Barry Brickell’s vision of keeping the potteries running.

What are you reading and listening to at the moment?

I am currently reading old pottery books from Barry’s library here at Driving Creek. This morning I have been listening to a long time favourite, Masakatsu Takagi. He creates the most beautiful piano compositions.

How would you describe your personal style - how has this evolved over the years?

My daily studio wear is generally jeans, or other durable trousers, along with a shirt I don’t mind getting some clay on. I like to feel comfortable and practical in the pieces I work in. Outside of my studio wear, I’ve always had a love of vintage. I feel drawn to garments with beautiful textiles and colours. I don’t purchase new very often, and if I do I like to choose pieces that are both ethical and quality. My style has remained fairly similar for a long time now and I tend to enjoy pieces for many years - one of my favourite embroidered tops I bought from a flea market in Rome when I was eighteen.

Tell us about a day in the life of Jaime...

I like to be up at my studio around 7:30am. I really enjoy mornings as I have good energy and flow for my work, which can vary from rolling and preparing slabs of clay, to building pieces, glazing, firing the kiln, and many things in between - plenty of diversity, which I love.

Around midday I cook a meal in my little studio kitchen. I like to use lots of greens and herbs from my veggie patch. Taking the time to cook then sit down to eat is something I always prioritise. I also have numerous cups of tea throughout my day, especially through these colder months. Lemon verbena leaves from my plant outside is a current favourite.

How do your Marle pieces make you feel during the day?

During these colder days at my studio I have loved layering my knits. I have quite sensitive skin in the winter, but have found the Marle wool blends so soft against my skin and light and comfortable to wear.

Quickfire questions:

What is your most treasured object and why? My first wood fired cup.
Favourite home cooked meal? There is an aubergine and tamarind dish by Meera Soda that I love.
Favourite fabrics to wear? I love cotton and wool.
Your non-negotiable daily rituals? I’m not a terribly ritualistic person but I always enjoy a still moment with tea. Currently where I’m staying for a few weeks at Driving Creek Pottery I love to walk through the bush up the hill to the lookout each day. This is my favourite stretching and pondering spot looking out over bush and islands dotting the coastline.
Spring/Summer or Autumn/Winter?Summer/Autumn.

Jaime wears the Kenzie Tee, Vivienne, Santi and Bon Jumpers. Photographed by Claire Mossong.


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