The antithesis to that is pottery. Taking an unforgiving hard slab of clay, throwing it (that is the term!) onto a pottery wheel and moulding it into something not only useful, but also beautiful. That's what you encounter at Something at Mary's.
Canadian artist Marion Stehouwer started the pottery studio about 11 years ago, after originally coming from a corporate background. Before she opened Something at Mary's (the name, I'm assuming, though I never asked, comes from the street the studio is located on – Mary Street), Marion was accepted onto the Bundeena Maianbar Art Trail, an event that opens up local artists' working to the public, get to know them and acquire their pieces. "It made sense to open up my studio, not just to display my works but also to encourage others to explore this amazing medium," Marion explains.
The Something at Mary's studio is located in Bundeena, about 29 km south of the Sydney CBD. No matter where you're coming from, be it in the Sydney city area itself, in the Sutherland Shire where the studio is located or even further like the Northern suburbs of Sydney, getting to the studio is like an exercise in anticipation. Getting the ferry from Cronulla station or driving through the Royal National Park to arrive at Marion's home studio gives students the impression you're about to do something unique.
For the class I take, Marion teaches us the basics, making just three items which she will then fire and lacquer/paint herself. When I arrive at the studio (after a pretty spectacular drive through the national park), I notice there are three other people there for the same class. They are three friends; all from Sydney's southern suburbs, and one of them tells me they just wanted "to try something different". We wait patiently for the class to start, in her quiet garden, making friends with Marion's little dog, who greeted us with curiosity before zigzagging back to inside with Marion's display of artwork which are also for sale. There's a few pleasantries exchanged but we're all eager to get cracking.
"Many people who come and take classes with me comment on how therapeutic and relaxing it is". That's perfect for anyone wanting a welcoming break from the drudgery of office life, or life in general. Classes are small and intimate, with Marion offering full attention to each student. That's not always the case for many classes like this, and is the point of difference for Something at Mary's. The studio also caters for large team building classes, or events like Hen's and birthday parties. For larger groups, Marion hires trusted artists to assist her, whilst her partner, John, manages the administrative side of the business.
"When you take one of my classes you will learn what that really means, and what took me 6 or more months to figure out, you'll be doing in an hour. My classes are small and intimate, and you get my total attention. That's just one of the things that makes Something at Mary's different".