The Magill commission: Ceramics to savour


1 June 2023

Mornings Ceramics Crumpet Stand + Magill Estate Crumpet, Smoked Trout, Honey. Producers: Yarra Valley / Kangaroo Island Living Honey Notes: Homemade Crumpet brushed with KI Honey, Chives, Smoked Trout Butter, Yarra Valley Trout Roe; photo: Jason Loucas

Lauren Murphy’s tableware commission met precise criteria of aesthetics, functionality, and durability.

Lauren Murphy has been making ceramics for six years. Her first larger commission was in 2021 while undertaking a residency at George Street Studios, through Helpmann Academy. She made a range of plates, platters, and olive bowls for a wine bar in Adelaide called Five O’Clock Somewhere.

She is currently part of the Jam Factory Associate Program, which recently facilitated a commission for Penfold’s Magill Estate Restaurant. Lauren is currently collaborating with chef Rodrigo Santos to develop a range of tableware for their Adelaide establishment.

This includes a variety of functional tableware. The wheel-thrown coffee cups were designed and made without handles: “They’re nice to hold, and you can feel the soft reduction glaze and warmth of the cup.” They also curved outwards at the lip, “When ceramic cups have a finer rim, they feel a lot nicer to drink from”. The pre-dessert bowls are for sharing amongst the table, so have been designed with a curved wall so they are easier to scoop from. A crumpet stand, snack plate and dessert bowl are also in production.

Mornings Ceramics Pre Dessert Bowl + Magill Estate Strawberry & Passion Fruit; Notes: Strawberry Ice Cream, frozen passion fruit mousse, passion fruit juice, strawberry gum oil.; photo: Jason Loucas

They chose a sandy yellow stoneware clay. “We wanted the ceramics to fit in with the space and bring together those warm, sandy tones”. To provide an unglazed appearance while still being food safe, she opted for a clear liquid quartz.

Much thought had to be given to durability, as the pieces would be put through the machine many times. Other elements to be considered were how the pieces were stacked and carried by the waiting staff.

For chef Rodrigo Santos, it was very much a collaboration, “When discussing our new ceramic pieces with Lauren, we like to raise questions about what sort of dish, produce or garnishes we want to use, and from there we decide the depth, colour, shape and structure of those pieces.”

In his mind, good tableware needs many different qualities. “For us, the perfect tableware is the one that is durable and versatile, in a way that we can use throughout all the four different seasonal menus, and enhances the beauty of the produce on it.”

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  • Chris says:

    Thank you for showing me your functional ceramic tableware works Lauren. It is helpful to see The Jam Factory studio set up when I have never been there and the methods of production you are using for your restaurant commission. Your hand worked soft clay pieces are like spun sandstone made solid for hearty nourishing rousing celebrations.