December 14, 2023
Arts & Culture

By her hands

Used to style some of Adelaide’s most lavish homes, these vessels designed by Janna Schneebichler are amazingly created not in a studio, but a little home laundry.

Janna Schneebichler

The brains and hands behind pottery brand Schapes, Janna Schneebichler in front of painting Ngayuku Ngura by Nyunmiti Burton.

As you wander through Janna Schneebichler’s Somerton Park home, you can’t help but admire the collection of beautiful pieces of artwork, her own pottery among them.

You can spot her rustic, yet delicate pieces among the rest. These are pieces that are now being seen in similarly gorgeous homes across South Australia and there’s no doubting they’ll become more and more in demand as she establishes herself further.

Janna, like most of us, wanted to find an activity to keep her busy over the Covid restriction period and she decided to return to a childhood hobby – pottery.

So, she bought some clay, found that she still enjoyed sculpting and signed up for a class with ceramics artist Kerryn Levy at JamFactory.

Some of Janna’s own work.

Fast forward a couple of years – Janna tells us today is her two-year “clay-versary” – and pottery is fast becoming a big part of her busy life, adding her ceramics brand Schapes to the mix.

Janna, 35, was born in Adelaide and lived in the Glenelg North area growing up but moved to the Czech Republic at 12 years old after winning the national ice-skating competition in her age group.

“My family is from the Czech Republic so we decided to move there and make that my training base,” Janna says.

She says her claim to fame was being the second reserve for the 2006 Winter Olympics, but when she missed out on the top spot at 17, she and her family decided it was time to return to Australia.

Kerry Armstrong’s Was hangs above the fireplace in the master bedroom. On the mantle is Balloon vase by Schapes, Moon Jar by Lisa Geue and Flower by denHolm.

Janna still performed in shows-on-ice for a little while and then worked in admin, eventually meeting her husband Leigh, a physiotherapist.

She now works in hospitality and keeps busy with Ari, four, and one-year-old, Jet.

There’s a lot going on, but once the kids are in bed each night, Janna makes her way to the laundry and it’s here that the world slows down a bit.

“I get in here and I can just forget about everything,” she says.

Janna Schneebichler
Janna at work glazing in the little laundry she creates all of her Schapes pieces in.

Often, there’s no plan, but sometimes Janna works off a sketch if there’s something specific she wants to make.

Several of these pieces have made it to Janna’s own shelves, mixing them with ceramics from other artists. In fact, Janna’s home is a gallery reflecting her modernist style.

One of the most impactful art pieces is a large canvas by First Nation’s artist Nyunmiti Burton, titled Ngayuku Ngura, which won the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards 2020 People’s Choice Award.

There’s also a large-scale piece by South Australian artist Christopher Orchard in the master bedroom, along with a textured painting by Melbourne-based artist Kerry Armstrong.

Faded, a hyper-realistic charcoal drawing by Ifeyinwa Joy Chiamonwu with a trio of vessels by Kerryn Levy, Walawuru Ngunytju kukaku ananyi (Mother eagles going hunting) by Iluwanti Ken and Walungurru III by Kunmanara Pepai Jangala Carroll (c.1950-2021).

“When my girlfriends were all collecting shoes and handbags, I was collecting art,” Janna says.

Janna’s pottery began as just a hobby, and while it’s steadily gaining momentum, she says the greatest luxury is being able to create in her own time, to her own pace.

“This isn’t my main source of income so I get to create for me. It gets costly once you fire it, but if I make something I don’t like, I just don’t fire it,” she says. “If I make something good, that’s great. But if not, that’s okay. I’m still learning, but I love doing it and if other people love it too, it’s so nice to see.”

Deeper Than This by Ifeyinwa Joy Chiamonwu with Classique tall vase by Schapes, Flower vase by Nicolette Johnson, Peplum vase by Schapes and Ballerina by Sophie Nolan.

This article first appeared in the September 2023 issue of SALIFE magazine.

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