My name is Ashley Fiona. I’m an artist. I live in Port Stephens, New South Wales with my partner Matthew, our daughter Olive and our dog Poppy. The objects I create are rolled, cut, cast, textured and manipulated with my own two hands. My studio is free from machinery and production lines. Each piece is handmade, by me, in every way.
I create porcelain tableware, jewellery and Birth Boots. My heart’s purpose is in the creation of my bespoke, porcelain Ashkeepers. Equally beautiful, they all serve a higher purpose. Each piece is designed to deepen rituals in our daily life in its own unique way.
The purpose of the tableware and jewellery is to enhance the beauty of simple life rituals – from your morning coffee to sharing a celebratory meal with family or friends. Birth Boots provide a tangible reminder of your tiny babes first moments earthside. There is something very special about taking the time to pause and contemplate these often fleeting moments.
The Ashkeepers bring to life the beauty of the complex ritual of death and mourning. I create Ashkeepers to help families and individuals celebrate those loved and lost. Intentionally spherical, created from high fired porcelain, Ashkeepers bring life to the sadness of death and encourage us to cherish positive memories forever. Each vessel is designed to hold the ashes of a loved one, personal keepsakes or both. Once inverted, the lid of the Ashkeeper creates a special candle holder for times of remembrance. Each piece is handmade, by me, in everyway. An outcome of my own personal healing, an Ashkeeper is designed to do just that.
The motivation behind my porcelain creations draws inspiration from my personal journey of love and loss. I was only 13 when my mother died in May 2000. Since her death, I have created artworks around the subject of death and absence as a form of enquiry and healing. I still remember the plastic container that held her ashes for many months. It was put away in a dark cupboard next to my dad’s bed and we never looked at it. It was unsightly and unrefined, everything she wasn’t. I wanted to create a beautiful, bespoke vessel for those left behind after death – a sacred tribute to those loved and lost. A vessel to nourish and replenish the soul with memories of your beloved.
As I become more familiar with death, I am closer to making my peace with the experience. Once traumatic and unspeakable, I am now able to recognise an element of beauty and inevitability in the process. This has instilled within me an ability to pause and take pleasure in the simple things in life.
My emotional healing process was long and difficult. I now have an Ashkeeper filled with some of my mother’s personal treasures and souvenirs. It’s there with me every day and once in a while, I’ll light a candle in celebration of the amazing woman she was and will always be.
Death and bereavement are incredibly personal experiences and no two people ever experience loss in the same way. Ultimately, my work is an expression of my life’s experience. Creating artworks to help others celebrate those loved and lost edges me closer to making my peace with the journey. My hope is that by incorporating these special pieces into your daily life, you too may uncover the gifts and wisdom they have to offer.
My Support Tribe
I have a wonderful tribe of supporters. The most influential champions are my remarkable Fiancé Matthew, our darling daughter Olive and our quirky rescue dog Poppy.
Matthew provides assistance in my studio, ferries me to my creative destinations and is rather clever with his merchandising skills. He is a keen fisherman and an exceptional chef.
Poppy is my shadow and my loyal studio companion. She reminds me to take breaks from the studio, to make time to play, to explore and be present.
My beautiful support tribe provide unconditional love, belief and understanding. They form a well-rounded and heartening circle in my life.