Despite it being some time ago now, I still remember the thrill of scheduling in a visit with Kim Jaeger while in Melbourne late last year. I had followed Kim’s instagram for months and marveled at the “work in progress shots” from her studio as she hand crafted one “Pot head” after another – each different and each strangely packed with character! I got the impression there was more to this project than the occasional shot on Instagram, so for her to accept my request for a visit felt like I was off on an art-filled treasure hunt!
What I didn’t expect to discover was that Kim is more than an accomplished artist with a loyal international following – she is a facilitator, educator and curator who works to bridge art with an audience at every chance she gets.
Kim grew up in the small coastal town of Coledale, south of Sydney. The University of Wollongong was her destination post high school, where she initially enrolled in Visual Arts. However a switch to graphic design progressed to completing her Masters in Graphic Design and New Media concentrating on interactive projects and installations using film, video and sound.
In 2001 she graduated and promptly found herself working in a call centre for a year – something many young graduates could put their hand up to!
She and her sister then headed to London for a few years with the intention to find work as a graphic designer. However the realities of client work grated with her and after a few months she moved on, finding jobs as a care worker, op-shop assistant, ticketing for plays and at Harrods over Christmas all with the aim to fund further travel.
Over this entire period she faithfully diarised her ideas. Continually drawing, remaining open and receptive to her changing surrounds until she had built up years of material just begging to be bought to life!
By 2005 she was back to Sydney in charge of the marketing and graphic design of a print company, bythe following year she decided to head South to Melbourne and join her sister (where she slept on the floor for a few months while getting on her feet…yes! We’ve all been there too!)
Between temp work and a role “scanning scanners” for Motorola (?!) Kim launched herself back into making again. Her first show was at Bus Gallery in collaboration with Emily Plunkett where they created work using embroidery. Kim’s work was text based where she made a wall of text from “overhears snippets of conversation”.
Kim then moved into a great role which she held of 3 years in event management with the Australian Institute of Professional Photography. Over this period she continued with her art in a big way. She also became heavily involved with the board of the Seventh Gallery on Melbourne’s Gertrude Street. It was her involvement here from 2009 – 2011 that gave her the opportunity to connect with a group of active and ambitious artists, including her partner Andy Hutson who was also on the board.
As she began to exhibit more (with shows at Felt Space in Adelaide and Boxcopy in Brisbane) she also increased her work as curator and familiarised herself with the nationwide network of “Artist Run Initiatives”. She has created, facilitated, curated and project managed large shows (one included the work of 28 exhibitors) involving musicians, artists and many creative talents that had never had work placed in the public arena.
In 2011 she took up a role with the Cancer Council Arts Awards programme which recognises and publicises the work of those directly and indirectly effected by the disease. She was also responsible for coordinating the launch of an art therapy programme for cancer patients.
Now….this all paints a picture of the highly active, involved and busy professional life of Kim Jaeger, but I want to just rewind a step or two to explain how her marvelous tribe of Potheads came to life!
POT HEADS: The Tribe
It was in 2008, in the backyard of a Melbourne share house that Kim discovered a creepy ceramic “head” with weeds growing out of it! She got over the creepiness but not her desire to maker her own “pot head”.
A few years later she took her idea to North Carlton Ceramics which led to regular Friday visits where she learnt from the best how to hand build and experiment with clay and glazes.
After some chat with Craft Victoria about their Craft Cubed project, Val Restarick of North Carlton Ceramics broached the idea with Kim of a joint exhibition. This was in 2011 and every single Pot head was snapped up and taken to a new loving home.
Following some great media coverage Kim began to field constant enquiries of people wanting to their own potheads so she began to liase with then secure a small group of local stockists.
I found Kim’s Pothead project to ride a really interesting line. There is such demand for her one off creations however every single one is made by hand, has its own personality and takes between 6-8 weeks of forming, glazing and firing to be completed!
Despite the heavy demand Kim continues to see her Potheads as functional art and is in no way swayed to head down the road of mass production..
Kim was pregnant with her first child when I visited the Brunswick cottage she shares with her partner Andy. She balanced 4 days a week with the Cancer Council and spent 3 days in her little laundry studio filling private and retail orders of her Potheads. She now has a gorgeous daughter and this year has already been involved in the curating of an exhibition at Mr Kitly of women artists from Iwantja Arts in Indulkana titled “Pukulpa Pots”.
A new collection of Pot heads are heading to Koskela next week and in November Kim is running a workshop at Signal (an art space run by The City of Melbourne for people aged 18-25) teaching a class how to make ceramic planters. A trip to Japan with her 8 month old and a focus on the collaborative exhibition she is working torward with Anna Varendorff for 2015 means this is one thriving and busy artist!
I found Kim to be uncannily calm which belies her amazing ability to make stuff happen! So often artists get to their end of their making process and find themselves incredibly stumped and intimidated on how on earth to share their work. It’s amazing people like Kim who can carefully move them in the right direction and help them cultivate a following which before may have seem impossible for them to access.
Mission in life – to own my own Pot head.
Photography by Julia Atkinson for Studio Home
WHAT I LEARNT FROM KIM JAEGER:
Be true to your ideas.
Let them grow…but in the way that sits comfortably with your gut.