Denise McDonald: Is she Sydney Craft Week's busiest maker?

Using time honoured skills and new innovative techniques, ceramist Denise McDonald creates hand built tablewear and wheel formed pieces. She is a maker of functional ceramics, designed for beautiful living.

Her hand built DM Pottery range is now available at Australian Design Centre's Object Shop, hitting the shelves just in time for the opening of Sydney Craft Week. The ADC team chat to Denise about her practice and we let you know where you can meet this busy maker during Sydney Craft Week.


We are so excited to have you part of Sydney Craft Week. What are your thoughts on the festival of events and what are you looking forward to most?

I’m so excited to be involved with Sydney Craft Week. I have somehow managed to be part of four different events! I have my work on show in the Kerrie Lowe Gallery exhibition TableTalk 2017 in Newtown, I will have a stall of my ceramics at the Made by Hand: Hazelhurst Art and Design Market in Gymea, I will be demonstrating my craft at the Meet the Makers event at Acquire@Design in Newtown (as part of the Craft Up Late program of events) and I will be doing a Wheel Throwing live demonstration at Chinaclay in Clovelly. So, I’m pretty busy, but I hope to make it to other events too. Artisans in the Gardens can’t be missed and of course there is the Makers Market at the ADC. Then there is the Handmade Wholesale Live panel discussion presented by Crafted in collaboration with The Tribe... and that’s all in just the first few pages of the program booklet!

It’s great that the Australian Design Centre has initiated this week of craft and created an umbrella for all these different businesses and organisations to come together with a multitude of events to celebrate craft of all kinds. There is strength in numbers and by working together in this way, we can make our crafty voices heard right across Sydney and raise the profile of the handmade. This is a fast paced, throw away, high consumption digital age we live in. Craft and the handmade is an essential counterpoint to all that which I think keeps us in touch with our humanity… so bring it on Sydney Craft Week! 

Glenn Barkley ceramics. Photo by Leeroy T

What is your 'origin story'?! Where did it all start?

I had always known I wanted to try clay based on childhood memories of being obsessed with the stuff. Once I had had my fill of my first career as a Landscape Architect, I jumped back into clay at an evening class and then a Diploma of Ceramics at Holmesglen TAFE. From there I did the Traineeship at Dartington Pottery in England and never looked back.

Describe the last thing you made?

100 cups for a cafe commission. The volume capacity has to be spot on and that is a real challenge. I love production throwing.

What part of the making process do you enjoy the most?

That zone where I have worked out a new design but it is still fresh and in its early stages. I feel confident and comfortable in its production but not yet bored. That could apply to the throwing, the slabbing, the glazing.

Who should we be following on Instagram? Who are your favourite local makers?

Australian Ceramics, potter Greg Crowe and Melbourne potter Marina Pribaz are current ceramic favourites. I also love the paintings of Gabby Malpas.

What's next on the horizon for you?

More clay!


Find Denise here

TableTalk 2017

When: Friday 22 September – Tuesday 17 October

Where: Kerrie Lowe Gallery, 49-51 King Street, Newtown

Made by Hand: Hazelhurst Art and Design Market

When: Sunday 8 October, 10am - 3pm

Where: Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, 782 Kingsway, Gymea

Meet the Makers

When: Wednesday 11 October, 5pm - 8pm

Where: Acquire@Design, 445 King Street, Newtown

Wheel Throwing Demonstration with Denise McDonald

When: Saturday 14 October, 2pm

Where: Chinaclay, 27 Burnie Street, Clovelly

Images: Courtesy Denise McDonald