Jo Victoria for SWC Heirloom

Like many creative collaborations born today, we first admired Jo Victorias ceramic work on Instagram. The artists glowing porcelain light shades and exquisitely sculptural creations caught our eye, and we sensed Jo, like us, felt deeply about the environment.

Jo is based in a coastal hamlet in the Eurobadalla Shire of southern New South Wales. High-fired porcelain is her favoured medium, and the themes of place and time thread through her pieces. The textures are reminiscent of geometric motifs found in nature, fossilised forms, and the shifting topography of the land. As a former archeologist and anthropologist, Jo is deeply attuned to the fragments of past lives and the embedded stories of objects and landscapes.

We were so happy when Jo agreed to collaborate with us. The beautifully handcrafted outcome is a worthy expression of our shared love of the natural landscape, meaningful objects that endure, and living with intention.

Please enjoy our Q&A with Jo.

Artist Jo Victoria in her studio on the NSW South Coast
Ceramics by artist Jo Victoria. A potter's wheel.

Your journey to ceramics hasn’t been direct, so how did you get to where you are today?

I was an anthropologist-slash-archeologist. I started my career in Central Australia, working with Aboriginal people in remote places and documenting the cultural heritage. I lived and worked there for a long time and met my partner there. We came back to Canberra, and I still worked in that field, but it was less hands-on than in the desert work.

But I fell in love with pots in year nine when I had my first go with clay on a wheel, and I could almost do it straight away. Something happened at that point, and that feeling has never left me. So, even though I didn’t go into art at first, I’ve always had a really strong feeling for clay. I went to art school later on and had the best time of my life, really.

What inspired your pivot to ceramics from the work you had been doing?

I had this sense that a major part of me, my creative side, was slowly dying. I had teenagers and sick parents, and I was working really hard and just craved the soul-building that a creative practice gives you. I had to start at art school part-time because I had kids and bills to pay. I would work during the day, race home, feed the kids, and go to uni from 6pm to 10pm, two nights a week. And even though I was dead tired, walking into that ceramics department was amazing – it was like walking into the light.

It was life-changing. And the rest is history, really!

A porcelain sculpture based on fossils

ceramicist Jo Victoria in her pottery studio on the NSW south coast

As we go through career shifts and pivots, we gather layers of inspiration, information and ways of thinking. Does your work background inform your creative practice today?

It’s interesting because, at art school, I really wanted to leave that (previous) work behind. And for a number of years, I thought I was just working away at my ceramic stuff. One day, a lecturer from Hawaii visited the art school, and she saw me draw these fossilised fish. She asked where that came from because they looked archeological. It was a light bulb moment where I thought, actually, I can’t leave my past fully behind.

Ideas about time and a connection to people, place and Country kept coming through in my work. Once I got that, I really let it flow.

And the way I use porcelain really lends itself to creating fragile bones and shells and middens. It speaks to me in a way that really works for me.

Jo Victoria ceramicist
A potter's studio nestled among the gum trees

Southern Wild Co is innately about the Australian landscape and the inspiration it offers. How does your relationship with the south coast of New South Wales, where you live and work, charge your creations?

Its all about that.

Every day I walk on the beach with my dog, and I collect things and look at bones and shells. I take in the magnificence of the ocean and the smallness of humans- its so great to be in that space. I feel very connected.

I'm lucky to live here because I think when people live in the city, it’s so hard to really connect with the daily pace of nature. Knowing when the tides are changing, going through storms, and seeing sea horses washed up on the beach. It’s a different rhythm and connection.

We moved here full-time from Canberra just before the 2019 fires. We sold the house in Canberra, and I built a really gorgeous studio. It’s a big double-height shed facing north, nestled under the spotted gums in our backyard. It helps to have a beautiful light-filled, high-ceiling place to work.


Porcelain work displayed in a potter's studio
Slip cast porcelain by artist Jo Victoria
Porcelain artworks by Jo Victoria displayed on a vintage table. There is a firing kiln in the background.

What are the rituals and rhythms that make up your day?

I try to get to the beach for a sunrise walk every day. My very energetic and large puppy is with me, and its just magnificent to wake up in that beautiful space.

I’m an early starter. I like to get a coffee and go straight into the studio. I poodle and literally potter until around three, and I can be quite focused. Once I am in there, I am in there. My family know I can be a little too focused – I have to come out and talk to people!

Clay is such a demanding thing. If the clay is ready, you have to work with it and plan around it. If it’s too dry, it will crack, and if it’s too wet, it will slump. Its hard to drop in and out of it. It’s full-time in the studio.

I have lots of projects on the go – it’s the life of an artist. I’ve got commissions and shows to work towards (including one set down for 2025), and I’ve got work I want to prepare for a big sale opportunity. I work on lots of things at the same time, and I think that’s what keeps me interested and stuck in my studio for so long. I am moving between ideas and projects.

When you emerge from your studio, what does collaboration with other artists bring to your practice?

I absolutely love collaboration. I loved it in my previous work life, too. I loved working in a team – not with other people like me, but with different kinds of professionals. And interestingly, that’s exactly how I like collaborating with other artists. I rarely work with other ceramic people, not because I don’t like it, but because I love it when different people bring different talents to whatever you are doing, and the sum of that makes it better than the individual work. I love letting it evolve.

Southern Wild Co x Jo Victoria Billy Can-dle
A beautiful outdoor setting with porcelain candles and fairy lights hanging in a chinese elm tree.

How did the collaboration with Southern Wild Co unfold?

Candles, to me, are about nurturing yourself. Life is busy and can be challenging, so self-nurturing is really important to keep going. We all need a bit of nurturing and care. I feel Tania at Southern Wild Co and I connect over that concept.

We both had a vision of candle-lit vessels hanging in trees. Light works well with my pieces because high-fired porcelain is very translucent and strong. The initial shared vision also included the idea that when the candles were finished, the vessels could be refilled or used as a vase or to put tealights in. You can have a beautiful object with a candle in it, and you can reuse that object however you like after the candle burns down.

The experience of the candles is a meditation. It’s the textured feeling of the vessels, the beauty of the light, and the familiarity of the Our Place scent. Everything about it is a meditative focus on being present. It’s about slow living and bringing it back to self-care.

Ceramicist Jo Victoria making slip cast porcelain moulds in her south coast studio for Southern Wild Co
Southern Wild Co's collaboration with Jo Victoria
Porcelain artist Jo Victoria working on Southern Wild Co's candle vessels.

Tell us about the process of making the vessels.

The upfront process is very technically intense and time-consuming. First of all, I throw the form on the wheel and carve into the sides to make the marks. Then, I make a mould with plaster. And when the mould is dry, I use liquid porcelain so I can slip-cast it and make it really thin. It literally takes three days to get one piece out of the mould. It’s quite a long process, but it enables me to make things that are very thin and very strong so the light can pass through the walls.

You work with a dichotomy of seemingly fragile fine art objects, and things are designed for daily use, like dinnerware, lighting and the beautiful SWC candle vessels.

I do, but high-fired porcelain is actually a lot stronger than it looks. So it can look really delicate, but it can survive way beyond us. In an archaeological site, you will find porcelain that might be thousands of years old. It’s kind of fragile but enduring, and there is something about that that appeals to me.

I also feel that I need to be quite careful about what I make because it is something that isn’t just going to fade away. I have to think about stuff that I make and fire in the kiln so I don’t create more rubbish. I am really conscious of making pieces that are reusable, functional and beautiful.

I am not a massive consumer myself – I buy secondhand everything – so I do struggle with my practice in that sense. But I also like to make things that allow people to have something that hasn’t come from an overseas sweatshop. It makes me sad that people don’t think about spending a bit more and buying a bit less for a better world, really.

Your previous work was also about those enduring remnants and meaningful fragments of past lives.

There’s still that same thread going through my ceramic work and that sense of deep time and our connection with living gently on the land. It’s definitely in it.

But it’s also about beauty and ephemerality, and that’s where the candles come in. I love the idea that you can have all of those things in one product.

SWC X Jo Victoria Billy Can-dle is now available.
Discover Jo Victoria Ceramics.
Shop Our Place.


Interview by Jessica Bellef.
Image of Jo Victoria at Broulee Beach with rainbow by Tideline Productions.
All other photography by Southern Wild Co.

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