In the neighbourhood: Enan Kaneenan
The Gospel
19.11.21
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When considering collaborations for The Gospel, we always look to work with people and brands within our own community first and foremost. For Christmas this year, we teamed up with local brand Enan Kaneenan Ceramics as a celebration of the creative community within the Brunswick neighbourhood.

Enan Kaneenan Ceramics is a small Brunswick based business with a focus on creativity, curiosity and joy. With no formal training, it was born out of pure passion and an obsession to understand and learn all aspects of ceramics as an artform.

As part of our Ceramic Whiskey Cup Kit limited release, we chatted to the man behind the pottery wheel, Ceramicist and Founder Elliot James Stock, to uncover his obsession with ceramics and why working with his hands and the Brunswick community is so important to him. Check the interview below.

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Elliot James Stock, Founder of Enan Kaneenan Ceramics working in his home studio

-- You are obviously a creative person – have you always been creative or is it something you learnt?
I have always done things that are creative – drawing, painting, ceramics, even reading books – which has helped draw out my imagination and creativity. I think people are creative by nature but perhaps over time it can get harder to tap into that creativity. It’s easy to get blocked through judgement or self-doubt or having the expectation that whatever you’re making needs to be good.

I never studied art or ceramics but I've put a lot of time into making it. For me, learning through trial and error is the best teacher. I try to be free with my art and not take it too seriously. At the end of the day, it's something I chose to do to bring me joy. My goal is to make something creative every day. No matter how it turns out, the important thing is to just have a go.

-- What is your first memory of creating art or being creative?
When I was a kid there was this passageway behind my house – a gap between our back fence and the neighbour’s fence behind us. We called it 'the secret passageway’ and created whole imaginary worlds back there, sometimes with just sticks and a cardboard box. That’s all we needed to have fun. Looking back, it was probably really dodgy in the alley but we didn’t care.

-- You seem to have moved from illustration to ceramics, why did you make the switch?
I love the challenge of learning something new. When I get into something I tend to get pretty obsessed with the learning process and it’s all I can really focus on. There is so much to learn with pottery so every day is a new challenge. Trying to figure out how to do things through trial and error is really rewarding for me.

I also love the physical aspect of pottery. Making things on the wheel, for me, is grounding and meditative but also a very humbling experience. The minute you think you’re good, all sorts of things will go wrong! I still really love to draw and paint but I only have so much creative energy – so at the moment I’m mostly putting it towards making ceramics.

-- How did Enan Kaneenan Ceramics kick off and where did the name come from?
Honestly, ceramics is an expensive hobby! There’s a lot of material costs and after about 6 months of doing pottery, I had acquired a bunch of pots and cups and bowls that were taking up heaps of room in our share house, so I decided I needed to start selling them. People have been so encouraging and supportive of my work. I’m not trying to make a living as a ceramicist, I just want to cover my costs so I can keep making pottery and keep this lovely hobby alive.

I’d say Enan Kaneenan is my art and ceramics alter ego – it was my childhood nickname and I chose to use that to represent my art as a reminder to have fun, be curious and create things that bring me joy.

-- Tell us about your process.
It depends what I’m making. If I’m making ceramics generally, I’ll take a chunk of clay and just see what I come up with – I never really know what shape something will be, I just go with the flow and see what happens.

When making something uniform, such as The Gospel whiskey cups, I follow more of a process. I weigh the clay into 450g balls and wedge it nice and tight to remove any air bubbles. I start throwing the cups on the wheel, measuring at a few different points along the way. I dry the formed cups under plastic for a few days until they’re leather hard, and then get back on the wheel to trim the excess clay off the bottom and refine the shape. I fire them in the kiln at Sailorboi Studio (Leslie St, Brunswick) before hand-painting with glaze and returning them to the kiln for the final firing. I guess this way I can mix painting and ceramics into one!

It’s a big process, but it’s so rewarding to pick up the pieces after the final firing and see how they turned out. It’s not unlike getting film developed – but better!

Elliott measuring The Gospel whiskey cups throughout the process

-- How does it feel to work with your hands?
There’s something so rewarding about making something from scratch with your bare hands – I find it so grounding. When I’m making ceramics, hours can go by and I don’t really think about anything. I’ve found there aren't too many things that make me feel what I feel when I make ceramics. That’s why I’m always on the wheel!

-- What is it about the creative process that you love?
I love not knowing how things are going to turn out. I love to just wing it and see what happens. Some of the best things I’ve made, in drawing, painting or ceramics, have been ‘mistakes’ that have turned the piece into something completely unexpected. I’ll often start my drawings with my eyes closed and then look at the shape and start working with that. For me, if I plan something it takes the creativity away.

-- What inspires you & your creativity?
Listening to music really inspires me. I’ll listen to something, and then get the sudden urge to paint or make ceramics. If I’m at a live gig listening to music I love, I have to fight the urge to run home and make something. Shout out to all the people out there making music that inspires me!

Some days my partner and I will do pottery together all day. The stuff she makes really inspires me. She just has a go and I love that. I’m inspired by people who make lots of different types of art, in different ways. To me that shows they want to challenge themselves to step outside their comfort zone. But really, I’m inspired by anyone who puts their art out there for the world to see. It can be a scary thing but it’s important to share it.

Elliott making The Gospel ceramic whiskey cups from his home studio in Brunswick

-- Does Brunswick or Melbourne have an influence on your work or approach to ceramics?
I think the people in Melbourne, my friends, my brother, my partner, have had a big influence on my art and ceramics. I’m inspired by all the different things that people are doing in this city. There are so many humble and very talented artists. I see art or listen to music made around Melbourne and it makes me want to create things.

-- What excites you about the community of Brunswick?
I’m in awe of how many people in Brunswick (and Melbourne) make amazing art and music. People in this community have a deep and genuine love of the arts and that’s a big reason why I live here. The diversity of cultures, people and artists is very inspiring.

-- What is your favourite place to go in Brunswick?
The Village Bakery for a cheeky cinnamon doughnut! I also spend a lot of time in Gilpin Park in front of my house. Shout out to the Brickworks community – there’s very lovely people living here.

-- What's your favourite hidden gem in Brunswick?
Sweet Evelyn Café on Union Street – love the vibe! I also want to start going to Jazzlab more to enjoy fancy drinks and listen to jazz.

-- Besides illustration and ceramics, is there anything else you are passionate about?
I’m passionate about my work. I work with Yarra Youth Services supporting young people and families from refugee backgrounds, which is very rewarding. They bring so much to the community and it’s a privilege to see people grow and do amazing things with their lives. I’m passionate about skateboarding – it has been my obsession for over 20 years. Although age is slowing me down a bit, there aren’t too many things in the world that are still equally fun and challenging 20 years later. I’m also going to be a dad, so I’m looking forward to that chapter in my life. I’m sure it will be another big learning experience but I’ve got a lovely partner to learn and grow with.

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You can check out Elliott’s work on his Instagram and purchase our limited edition Ceramic Whiskey Cup Kit here, which includes 2 handmade ceramic whiskey cups (while stocks last).

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