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Jeannine Hendy – Trentham

Jeannine Hendy may have been brought up in the country with a strong connection to the land but she was 49 before she acted on that connection and her innate creativity, to take up a new career in ceramics.

“I’d always had creative interests but it was a true light bulb moment when I first sat down at a potter’s wheel. It was a fabulous feeling, like I had completed my circle,” she says.

“I had that feeling of being connected to the earth and I would have been happy doing nothing else forever.”

Born and raised in Far East Victoria in the Omeo Valley area, Jeannine’s late introduction to working in ceramics is proof she says, that it’s never too late to pursue your creative dreams.

“It would be a horror to me, to die thinking ‘if only’,” she says.

“I have so many people visiting me now – especially women – who are so busy raising families or fulfilling their professional goals that they don’t pursue their own creativity. But you really should follow your own desire to create. It doesn’t mean you have to be Picasso – you just have to follow your heart.”

It’s important she says, to “get off the production line” and Jeannine is proof that that is always possible. Her new career as a potter follows her many years in a fulltime career as an operating theatre nurse, a job she describes as “intense, demanding and mentally taxing.”

“I always loved gardening as a relief from nursing (I still do), but it wasn’t until my eldest daughter took me off to a pottery class in Carlton, that I realised pottery was where my heart was.”

She and her husband bought land in Trentham twelve years ago with the aim of building a new home, and, for Jeannine, a new career in ceramics. To further her dream she completed a two-year, full-time Diploma of Ceramics course at Ballarat SMN Tafe and she was on her way.

It’s been a challenging road she says but Jeannine has come a long way from the tiny pinch pots she made as a child using black clay from the flats near the family home in Omeo Valley.

“I’ve always retained that strong connection to the land that I felt growing up. I love the earth – the feel of it, the smell of it. It’s very powerful to me; it’s very centring.

“Learning to work with clay in a professional way as a fulltime potter hasn’t been an easy journey by any means – it’s only in the last four years that I’ve produced pots I actually like – but it’s been a wonderful and inspiring journey.

“It’s been a slow learning process for me but you don’t get anywhere by wishing for overnight success and I’ve never regretted following my creative dreams for a minute.”

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