They say there are more artists on Bruny than anywhere in Tasmania. Why is this so? We chat to Nicole Adams about what it’s like to live and work on the island as a ceramicist.
Tucked away beside the Bruny Island Cheese Co. lives Nicole Adams and her family. Here, she works away in her home studio creating functional and sculptural ceramics as well as offering tailored clay experiences.
“My nickname is Nickers, so Nickers & Clay became the name of my business,” laughs Nicole as she casually leans over the pottery wheel. “I got a wheel for my 16th birthday and I’ve loved working with clay ever since. There’s a sacred quality about creating something out of earth that has potential to endure beyond our lifetime. Ceramics is part of my being. It’s my escape.”
Nicole’s family goes way back on Bruny. Her mother and father both grew up on the island and her great grandmother used to do the mail run between Bruny and mainland Tasmania with her father in a rowing dinghy.
When she met her partner Joe, who also grew up on Bruny, she couldn’t wait to move to the island. More than two decades ago they settled here and created the much-loved Get Shucked Oysters; an oyster farm and restaurant complete with drive thru oyster window. Having since sold the business and with two busy children under ten, these days Nicole is enjoying more time in her studio.
“I grew up in Kingston just south of Hobart and always wanted to come and live back here. As a 15-year-old I had grand ideas of living in one of the ramshackle houses down at Cloudy Bay. It’s always been in my blood and psyche to get back here,” she says.
These days Nicole and her family are loving the island lifestyle. Her daughter has just taken up surfing and the kids love their local primary school. With a strong community and well-forged friendships, the family of four couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
“I love living here. It’s like we’ve got a big extended family. The kids are always looked out for and it feels safe – like a big village,” Nicole describes from her 15-acre property by the water. “Each morning we rise early and head straight outside to potter in the garden and feed the chooks. The school bus picks up the kids from our driveway and our days are filled with everything from surfing and beach walks to jetty jumping, fishing and horse riding. Nature is our playground.”
Nicole works hard to reduce the family footprint by growing veggies and native plants, which can often be found for sale on the roadside. She also works hard to instil sound social and environmental values in her children.
“It’s all about showing respect for Bruny Island, a place of the Nuenonne people, custodians and caretakers for thousands of years,” explains Nicole. “I acknowledge their connection to this country, a place my family love and that greatly influences my work.”
“We love being part of the Bruny community and the variety of people here – from big burly farmers to nature lovers to young families,” smiles Nicole. “This place is a home for us and the animals. Most of us are more than happy to chat with visitors. You might get a grunt from one but tease out a local secret destination from another. Most of all we love it when people take their time and soak up Bruny rather than zooming around and ticking off the hit list. So, come and stay a while. Enjoy the Bruny we know and love.”
Keep a look out for when Nicole’s studio is open. You might find her using slabs of clay, coils, wheel throwing or slip-casting. Her petite studio features a range of handmade wares available for purchase, including earrings, mugs, homewares and even compost vessels ideal for the bench top.