Sarah Tracton is a multidisciplinary fine artist and bespoke lighting designer. A graduate of the National Art School, she has built a reputation for using innovative ceramic techniques to create bespoke handcrafted lighting that is an intersection of fine art, craft and functional design.

woman leaning over paper with pen

Having achieved exceptional results and recognition as a trained fine artist with mastery over her materials, Sarah has refined a niche clay slip poured on plaster slab technique. She fuses innovative cordless technologies with traditional craft processes to create lighting that emits exquisitely luminous and ethereal outcomes when paired with LEDs.

Her creative process involves pairing traditional clay crafting techniques with the finest grade porcelains plus high-end design, manufacturing & fabrication for bespoke architectural lighting applications. She uses Kintsugi golden repair technique, in line with the ethos of circular economy in combating wastage.

Sarah held her solo exhibition, Hearing it for Silence, exhibited at Abbotsford Convent in 2018.

She has been a finalist for numerous national awards, including VIVID Design + Decor, IDEA, Craft Victoria Award, Environmental Art and Design Award, Workshopped at the Australian Design Centre and won Peoples Choice at the Macquarie Emerging Artist Prize and was awarded as an AMP Tomorrow Maker in 2020.

What activities will the Creators Fund support you to undertake?

As a trained fine artist, amalgamating the principles of industrial design into my process has been an intriguing journey.

The Creators Fund will enable me to develop several further innovations with my technical collaborator Dr Ian Watkins, including wireless motion sensing, single wire cordless suspension, operation of accessible touch controls and multiple prismatic configurations of my flat-sheet lighting.

I also undertake Kintsugi technique, where porcelain that has broken during firing is repaired with glue and gold leaf. This process of repair, recycle and reuse involves the creative reworking of usually discarded objects, replacing the cycle of make-use-dispose with circular economy.  It’s a rewarding method that transforms what was a broken piece of trash into a functional light with golden illumination.

Can you talk us through what your work routine will look like with the help of a creator's fund grant?  

My process involves intensive hours spent in the studio immersed in iridescent coloured stains, glazes, paper pulp, brushes. mixers and porcelain slip. In their early drying stage, the lights are so fragile, that they can break with the slightest misstep on the way to loading the kiln for their firings of up to 1280 degrees. Porcelain is an exquisite, yet challenging material to craft with as it’s so subject to sensitivities of temperatures and humidity in the atmosphere. Plenty of technical analysis notes are taken during the firing process to record colour alterations and shrinkage rates. Each finished light involves extensive testing of the porcelain surfaces against LED with assembled customised electrical components assembled from scratch to check that they generate the right degree of functional warmth and ambience. Other integral aspects of the daily routine are photography of the lights for digital and print dissemination.

Where would you like to see yourself and your career at the end of this process?  

Being awarded a Creators Fund is a significant honour and an opportunity to expand the scope of my creativity.  My goal is to increase the technical complexity and scale of my lights, with bolder installation configurations.  I envisage that this period will allow me to propel my practice into international realms for exhibition. I look forward to sharing the results of my experimentation following this intense period of R&D with the ‘green architecture’ sector. I aim to reach new audiences who value lighting as an artform.

Website/gallery: http://www.sarahtracton.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarahtracton/

Find out more about the Creators Fund program.