Driving through the leafy Mornington Peninsula township of Balnarring, it’s easy to see where ceramicist and artist, Monika of Monika With a K Art, draws her inspiration from.
I was lucky enough to have a sticky beak at her home studio where her creative ideas manifest into wonderful creations. From delightful ceramic dishes to dream catchers made from locally found sea glass, Monika is constantly evolving as an artist. But beyond that, this generous and gentle soul is finding ways to use her talents to also benefit charities and the environment, something that she is so passionate about.
I spoke to this busy local creative about some of her favourite Mornington Peninsula creatives and how she finds time to create.
LC : Are you a Mornington Peninsula native? If not, how did you come to be here?
MC : I was born and raised in Croatia, a lovely Mediterranean country, but moved to the Mornington Peninsula 4 years ago after meeting my husband, who has lived on the Peninsula for the last 20 years. Since I came to live on the coast, I have felt at home straight away and have had a really warm welcome by my new family and friends.
LC : How did your journey as a creative begin?
MC : I’m not sure if it counts but I made some vases from the clay we dug when we were building our summerhouse when I was about 6 years old (unfired of course) and about the same time I also started collecting sea glass. My first real touch with clay was about 15 years ago when I was a co-therapist (I used to work as a clinical psychologist in Croatia) in an art therapy practice but it took me another few years to take the ceramic hand-building course and actually learn the process of making ceramics. I’ve dedicated most of my spare time making ceramics, and have continued it here in Australia. I’m very excited that I’ve managed to buy my own first kiln. Now my style and techniques are still developing and improving and I plan to take some serious studies in ceramic arts and art therapies in future.
LC : Which creative field are you in and what medium do you use?
MC : I love ceramics, clay is very tactile and my favourite medium at the moment. I collect sea glass, driftwood and make wire wrapped sea glass art using copper wire. Sometimes I combine all mediums together.
LC : Where do you find inspiration for your work?
MC : I’m mostly inspired by the nature around me: great blue oceans with their sea life, gentle plants, simple shapes and vivid colours.
LC : What are the biggest challenges you face as a creative person?
MC : Currently it’s the lack of time. I have a very cheeky two years old that wants my full attention 24/7. So lots of my ideas stay in my head only or on a paper because at the moment I don’t have the time to materialise them in clay or from the sea glass. At the moment I only create for several hours a week and am very grateful for that, but I do crave for more.
LC : What role do you think the Arts play in our community?
MC : For what I can see in the past few years living here, I think the Arts play the big role in the Mornington Peninsula. I feel the Arts are an essence of life here and I love it. Life tastes much better with lots of creative people in the community, especially within close circle of my friends.
LC : Do you have any advice for kids wanting to pursue a creative career?
MC : Just follow the road to your dreams!
LC : Who are your favourite Mornington Peninsula creatives?
MC : I haven’t lived on the Mornington Peninsula for very long, but I’m very lucky to have many artist friends and can enjoy their creative journey. For example, Amanda Nelson (@amandanelsonart) is my favourite painter at the moment. Corrie Williams (@wild_._seed_mandalas) makes unique mandala (sea glass) art drawings. Kym and Ange from Jump jewellery (@jumpjewellery) make beautiful jewellery that I enjoy wearing.
LC : Tell us your favourite place to eat or grab a coffee on the Mornington Peninsula.
MC : They are all very local to Balnarring. In the cooler months I enjoy grabbing a hot chocolate from the Nourish organic food store in Balnarring, nice organic and indulgent. My favourite restaurant is Le Bouchon French restaurant, but love having breakfast or lunch at the Merricks General Wine Store. The fish and chips from Tulum Store at Balnarring Beach are also a favourite.
LC : A Sunday on the peninsula is best spent…
MC : At the beach with my family, relaxing (hunting for sea glass), visiting friends and enjoying a beautiful home cooked meal later.
LC : Can you tell us some of the exciting things to come for the rest of 2018?
MC : This year I plan to produce more functional ceramics with interesting new textures and invest into more tools of trade. And of course be present at the local markets and shops.
I support the local charity The Thin Green Line Foundation, which helps Park rangers and their families, by donating 10% of my revenue. I’m also very excited and proud to announce that I’m creating the dedicated line of functional ceramics for the charity purposes.
LC : Where can we find you and your work?
MC : I’m a Balnarring local and often sell at local markets, like Emu Plains Market. I also run two Etsy shops, one for ceramics and other for sea glass art. Currently I’m establishing communications with few shops on the Peninsula to stock my items as well.
Instagram | @monikawithak.art
Shop | Monika With a K Ceramics on Etsy
Enjoyed learning about July’s feature creative? Read about our other feature creatives here!