See how Robertson artist Celeste Coucke makes 120 ceramic trophies in 6 weeks

Artist Celeste Coucke has been hand making ceramic trophies for the Sun Run and Cole Classic since 1997. 

That’s 21 years spent hand throwing, pressing, firing and painting more than 2500 plates and bowls for lucky winners of the tournament.

Now in it’s 35th year, the Sun Run and Cole Classic attracts around 10,000 people from all over the country to Sydney’s Northern Beaches to participate in fun runs and open water swimming.

Celeste’s handmade trophies have become an iconic part of the event – ceramic tableware painted with “well-padded” heroic figures, which she said were inspired by her previous home in Bondi and the beach culture of the 1930s.

“The whole point is that it’s humourous,” she said. 

“It’s not a serious interpretation of a sportsperson. 

“The original brief from Chris Cole was trophies that were going to be functional, rather than just dust collectors. So, bowls that could be used for breakfast and plates that could be used for dinner.”

Preferring to expend her energy on public art projects that “benefit more people”, Celeste sees the commission as a public artwork because of the extensive reach of the Cole Classic. 

“I find that people really want to win these trophies because they’re handmade and they’re different,” she said. 

“One woman sent me photos of a whole group of Cole Classic winners holding up their plates at a dinner party.

“That’s pretty special.”

A “labour of love”, the creative process is shared by Celeste, her partner Steven Fearnley, and potter Neil Boughton, who spend six weeks working together at Celeste and Steven’s Cloudfarm Studio on Mt Murray. 

“It’s a big project,” Celeste said. 

“We usually start the hand-throwing in December and then it takes about two weeks to decorate all the plates and bowls. 

“We all bring different skills to the table. Neil does a lot of the throwing and pressing, I do the turning, some of the throwing and Steve and I do the decorating.”

This year, the team will produce around 130 bowls and plates for winners aged between nine and 89.

The Sun Run and Cole Classic will be held on February 3 and 4.