A catch up with SSCP 2021 winner, Bell Carver

The Shelley Simpson Ceramics Prize (SSCP) was introduced in 2020 by Mud Australia Founder and Creative Director, Shelley Simpson. The vision for the prize was to support the next generation of Australian ceramicists, with the annual winner receiving a $10,000 cash prize to support their studies or further pursue their ceramics career.

Since Bell Carver won the inaugural prize in 2021, new opportunities have emerged. She's moved from Melbourne to Sydney and is now working at Mud Australia. We reflect with Bell on the past 2 years since her SSCP application and discuss her future career prospects.

  • Bell making her winning entry at home.

I first heard about the Shelley Simpson Ceramics Prize from my Mum. She was on Mud Australia’s mailing list and forwarded the email announcing the prize, encouraging me to apply. At the time, I was struggling to make ends meet so I thought it was worth a shot.

My submission was quite different to what I've made before. I felt deeply connected to this body of work and felt it best represented who I was as an artist at that point in time.

My entry “Times Goes By” used clay as a material to convey the notion of time. The shape of the hemispheres was inspired by an old travel clock of my Mums. I was living in Melbourne during lockdown at the time so all iterations of the hemispheres were made in my corridor and unfired due to limited access to a kiln.

Belle's winning entry, Times Goes By.

I felt really honored to be recognised as a finalist amongst a group of talented artists. When I was announced the winner, I was completely shocked.

Winning the prize has changed my life. It gave me more confidence knowing that I can move people without using words and reassurance that I was on the right path. The prize money itself helped with my final year of studies and gave me access to materials that I didn't have the funds to purchase prior.

Winning the SSCP opened doors that I could have never imagined. Prior to entering, I was planning to do honours, then move to the UK and do another course (an extra 2 years of study). I've now moved to Sydney, working at Mud Australia as a Retail Support Coordinator, working closely with our 10 global retail stores. I've got a new set of challenges and gaining experience in areas separate to my creative practice, which I'm really enjoying.

Covid in Melbourne really zapped my creativity, so I’ve been taking a short break, documenting my current experiences and making textiles. I look forward to approaching my creative practice with a fresh perspective.

A note from Shelley

The past two years with prolonged lockdowns have been challenging for many artists.

When selecting Bell as the winner, I really liked how she found a way to express herself creatively despite the physically imposed restrictions of Covid. This spoke exactly to why I developed the SSCP.

I'd like to encourage a regeneration and momentum of the ceramics industry with this prize. Applications are open to ALL Australian ceramics artists and close 30th November 2022. I can’t wait to see the submissions.

Mud Australia is committed to achieving a diverse community and strongly encourages First Nations peoples to apply.

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