Renowned for her hand-made ceramics and boundless creativity, we sat down with Cath Carroll of Curious Island who shared insights into her brandartistic processes, and the inspirations that shape her work. Join us for a glimpse into the life of a talented ceramicist living on Stradbroke Island.

Explore our range by Curious Island here.

Photography by Julie Sisco

Where did you first discover your love for creating?

Creativity, playing, curiosity, collecting, escapism, and problem solving has just always been - me.

My earliest creative memories would be building in the backyard with all sorts of found objects or escaping to the freesia meadow that rolled down the hill in front of our home. With its massive persimmon tree, the strong, wide branched Frangipani (both perfect for climbing), tall grasses and a scattering of hydrangeas, it was perfect for escaping the noise of a large boisterous family – to collect, sort, dream and create.

I remember once picking hundreds of freesias and placing them in rows, colour grading each flower from pure white to dark pink, all the while being in awe of all the colours of the sunset I found in between – something so simple could fascinate me and occupy me till dinner.

I have clear memories of being called for dinner, finding it difficult to abandon my mission, and getting a scolding for not coming immediately.


What does a day in the life of Cath look like?

I thrive on routine. I love heading off to bed early, listening to the BBC World Service before drifting off to sleep. It reminds me just how lucky I am, how strong people can be and how better we should be both individually and as a collective.

I wake early, play a game of Carcassonne with someone I don’t know in the world, before heading off for coffee with a crazy crew of locals for a banter, tease, and a laugh. I head to my desk at around 8.15.

“Work” to me is divided into 5 – my business, my ceramics, my community, my family, and me. All require creativity, problem solving and patience. Patience, my lack of, being my biggest flaw.

I divide my time between my office in Fortitude Valley, my home and pottery studio nestled amongst the tall eucalypts, banksia, and grevilleas on Minjerribah|North Stradbroke Island. My “work” consists of designing, managing, and implementing with the team several retail and restaurant offerings both nationally and internationally. Designing and creating tableware for a bar, managing production of my designs for my supportive retailers. Kicking off and planning the local community’s Straddie Arts Trail, teaching a community pottery class, planning our next family adventure – Seoul this year! Planning a family weekend dinner often utilising produce from the island, including our garden – I love cooking. 

It sounds idyllic, but within all of those areas of work are the anxieties, stresses and mundane of bill paying, people management and housework. It's hard work sometimes.

I often end the day with a dip in Bummiera, the beautiful lake behind our island township. Perfect for washing away the frustrations of the day before an early dinner – no later if possible than 5pm!

Somewhere in between all that life – my husband and I are renovating a 200 year old church and cemetery in Tasmania.

We love your unique style and the glazes of your ceramics. Who, where and/or what do you turn to for inspiration?

I equally love to travel and stay home. Nature is magical no matter where you are.

Exploring new places opens my mind to new techniques, forms and unexpected creativity, colour, and texture. I use my camera to try and capture these moments to incorporate into my ceramic surfaces when I return.

I am spending a lot of time in Tasmania this year and find my glazing is leaning into the colours of the Derwent Valley.

When at home, Straddie never disappoints, and it seems like every day I spot a new combination of colour and texture to capture and incorporate into my work.

All my work is created hoping someone will use it to create a special moment for themselves, family, and friends. ‘Moments’, the good ones, are pure joy.

You create such a wide range of pieces, from your Fish Wall Hangings through to mugs, bowls and platters. Do you have a favourite piece that you like to make?

I love making my curious small rafia fish from scraps. Like I did when I was younger, I get lost in the play and repetitive mark making and find the process effortless and fun. Mindfulness at its best. I use these fish to explore clay and glaze combinations. It brings me so much joy when I hear of customers lining the fish up and playing around to create their own unique combination.

We see a range of techniques used in your work - each piece is unique in its own way. Can you tell us a bit about the materials and tools you most like to use to make your creations?

I have explored many different creative processes and materials to create. But it’s the use of clay to express my creativity that has always resonated for me and stuck. It simply challenges me.

It can astound, disappoint, frustrate, excite, and in the end take my breath away.

The alchemy and magic of every step when creating is a magnificent miniature snapshot of the complexity of creation.

I love my slab roller, my $4 kmart flexible clay tool set, my gumnut collection, and my mini pugmill for creating unique clay mixes for different purposes.

If you had to describe your art style in 3 words, what would they be?

Playful, reactive, and challenged.

What are you currently watching, reading and/or listening to?

I have just finished watching The New Look – I love a historical drama and love love love Ben Mendelsohn.

I am reading The Gardeners Bed-Book by Richardson Wright, editor of House & Garden Magazine in the 1920s and 1930s. Full of perfect bite sized moments of life and in the garden.

When driving I listen to BBC Radio 4’s – Desert Island Discs – This week’s episode is with John Boyne, a favourite author of mine – I can’t wait!

Explore our range by Curious Island here.




More Projects

Neath Residence

The Palms

The Kira House