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Stephanie Outridge Field: Hijacked into Ceramics

Stephanie's Friday Feature Artist Interview can be found at the bottom of this page.

Stephanie Outridge Field is a ceramic and multimedia artist whose journey spans over four decades of dedication, exploration and innovation. Stephanie's career in the art world is nothing short of inspirational. From the prestigious halls of Sydney College of the Arts to vibrant community workshops in Brisbane, her commitment to ceramics and public art has left an indelible mark across Australia and New Zealand. With a rich tapestry of experiences, ranging from teaching, curating and project management to the creation of large-scale sculptural statements for installation in major commercial and public precincts. 

Stephanie embodies the spirit of a true artist, a visionary who moulds the Earth itself into expressions of life and community. Stephanie shared some of her life story with Fibre Arts Take Two including how she was ‘hijacked’ into ceramics, the importance of fours and a piece with panels weighing a tonne a piece.

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A ‘Hijacking’

Stephanie’s route to ceramics, she says, came about more through a hijacking than by active choice. “My mother was a sewer and a knitter.” Stephanie explains. “I had, during my teenage years, done a lot of spinning and knitting with wool that I had spawned myself. I also, in my late teenage years, did three-dimensional embroidery with a range of materials including leathers, plastic, different fibres, silk, a whole range of plant-based fibres.”

With this experience behind her, Stephanie set out to further her fibre arts skills, “At the time, Sydney College of the Arts was just being established. I applied to go there because they had advertised that they would be doing a fibre course. I turned up on day one of the foundation year and there was no fibre course. They said, ‘Don't worry, we'll get it all organised. It's a general first year anyway before you specialise. So by the time year two comes along, there'll be a fibre course.’

Then it came to the end of the year where we had to choose areas of study and I was standing there with a form, and nowhere on it did it say ‘fibre’. I was standing in the office trying to process and then the head of ceramics walked past me and said, ‘I'm going to fill this in for you. It's ceramics’. And he ticked the box and he handed it over the desk. So, in a way, I think I was slightly hijacked by somebody who knew me better than I knew myself, and he was right.”

Stephanie Outridge Field artwork



Stephanie works most often in a series of fours or multiples of four, “I think that relates to the four sides of a square,” she says. “They're very easy to stack, two by two, it's also a nice maths kind of thing. I often work in multiples of four. It's either four, eight, or, you know, 12, or 16, and the biggest series I think I've made is 24. 

I really like it because there's a kind of relationship; I can combine two sets from different times because they have a similar relationship physically to each other. I don't usually make solo works. I always work in series, even in the workshop, and I decorate in a single sequence.” Stephanie Outridge Field artwork



With a predilection for fours comes, unsurprisingly, a tendency to work with squares. “I came to the squares, probably about four years into my practice,” Stephanie says. “And then I probably added a series about every two or three years. So, probably by the time I had been working for 10 years, I had my various letters of my alphabet. But I got better at using them with time. Some people change a lot. I kind of consolidate and galvanise. I think that's important because everybody makes work, and I think the best work is when it's uniquely attributed to the maker because of who they are. I respect other makers for that.” 

Other than becoming a mark of Stephanie’s personal style, squares also have social and cultural connotations. “I think a really interesting thing about the brain is that when they look at my work, because of that, squareness. We're taught to read squares, our screens are squares, often our information as human beings is presented in a square. So I think, for ceramics, to be square is an interesting thing. Although there's a big tile history, a lot of our things are three-dimensional and based on a circular or concentric kind of patenting. So to see my work as a square telling a story is relating to a whole lot of different contexts in cultural documentation.”

Stephanie Outridge Field artwork


Gympie Memorial Laneway

One of Stephanie’s many impressive pieces is her War Memorial work for a laneway in the regional Queensland town of Gympie. Stephanie shared how she came to be doing such a significant piece. “I had a very supportive mother but a father who felt uncomfortable about my professional life choice to be an artist,” she says. “There was an opportunity that he was involved with, a committee that was involved with Anzac Day celebrations. He was part of the project to get these brass plaques in stages to tell the story of Australia as a nation, and also as a place where people often travelled to engage in conflict. 

He was negotiating with the Australian War Memorial, and he got some paragraphs, and I said, ‘Dad, the audience you want to reach is not going to look at words. You have to illustrate this story.’ So I and a friend of mine decided to present a proposal about illustrating these brass plaques in a war memorial laneway in Gympie.” 

The finished piece consists of nine panels, each composed of around one tonne of clay. “One is on the cost of war, which is about the loss of life and the impact on return service and then their families once the conflict was over and they were back in the community.” Stephanie explains. “Another one is Women at War, which often can be a neglected area. There are nine panels in this, each of which took 18 months to make.”

Part of the reason each piece took so long was that approval needed to be granted by the Australian War Memorial. This resulted in one of the aspects that make this piece unique. “We went on the radio and asked for people to nominate a member of their family from that area who could be included so every person in there is a real person, not our idealised, heroic epic person. They're ordinary people who did extraordinary things in extraordinary circumstances. And that was a point of difference as well is that people can go there and see a grandmother or an auntie or someone that was related to them in their community, and that, I think, was a power within this piece.”

About Stephanie Outridge Field

Stephanie Outridge Field is a ceramic and multimedia artist with over 30 years of professional studio and exhibition practice ranging from commissioned design development to the creation of large-scale sculptural statements for installation in major commercial and public precincts.

Stephanie has been working in the contemporary ceramics field for over 30 years. Since graduating with both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from Sydney College of the Arts in 1980 she has been committed to her ceramics practice by exhibiting in both group and solo shows in Australia and New Zealand. She has established a community ceramics workshop designing and fabricating public ceramics for corporate and government clients; has been proactive in ceramics education and training in Queensland, and has been a contributing writer to national and international publications.

She has over 25 years of expertise in instigating, facilitating, managing and coordinating all areas of project realisation and has established a significant reputation for excellence in her ability to liaise with project stakeholders across all sectors and tiers of process.

Stephanie has her own equipment and facilities currently housed at a purpose-built studio in Brisbane.


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