In 1988, Warrick crossed paths with Joan during the opening of his Advanced Diploma in Studio Ceramics graduation exhibition. This encounter proved to be fortuitous, as Joan extended an offer for him to work as a studio assistant in her Bathers Beach studio in Fremantle.
Under Joan’s guidance, Warrick embarked on a series of significant commissions destined for architectural projects both within Western Australia and across the country. These diverse commissions encompassed large one-of-a-kind forms, captivating wall murals, and even a monumental 5-meter-high ceramic fountain inspired by Western Australian Xanthorrhoea grass trees, created for the St George Bank Head Office in Sydney.
Joan’s remarkable energy and strong work ethic left an indelible impression on Warrick. Despite their significant age difference – Warrick being 19 years old and Joan 64 – they formed a harmonious working relationship. Together, they spent long hours in the studio, engaging in professional discussions while also sharing laughter and enjoying a beer at the end of the day.
Having travelled extensively and being highly respected for her skills and talents by her contemporaries, Joan commanded international respect within the ceramic world. Working alongside Joan, Warrick had the privilege of meeting numerous remarkable individuals as her studio played host to visiting artists, politicians and influential figures, along with ‘heavy hitters’ in the Australian art bureaucracy.
The impact of Warrick’s time with Joan can be seen in his profound understanding of her approach to creating forms and artworks rooted in Western Australia’s landscape. Joan’s studio, situated on the beachfront of Bathers Beach, positioned within the littoral zone, served as a constant source of inspiration for her work.
“The way Joan employed her thumb and a collection of special tools and found objects from the beach and the Western Australian landscape to make marks on her pieces has profoundly influenced my own approach to working with clay. The Western Australian littoral zone has been an enduring muse throughout my creative journey.”