We're bringing a dash of playfulness to the blog this week with Claire de Lune's ceramic characters! Claire is a Scottish ceramic artist living and working in Margate. She has created her own world through her artwork, complete with delightful characters and symbols that always make us smile.
How did you come to be interested in working with clay?
I began working in clay a few years ago during my time living in Berlin, Germany. I fell in love with the medium straight away for its immediacy, and its tactile qualities! I found it to be the best material for telling the stories I wanted to tell.
In a stroke of synchronicity I found out from my grandmother that my family, the Adams, have been potters since the 1600s, and ran the Staffordshire W Adams and Co potteries right up until the 1960s, specializing in jasperware. It feels appropriate to be continuing this wonderful family tradition.
What inspires your work?
Everything inspires me! I feel inspired every day - by the amazing friends and family around me, and the beautiful objects and books in my home and studio. Inspiration comes in so many forms, but you have to seek it. It can come in the simplest of ways, in the way the light hits the flowers one morning, or a beautiful phrase uttered by someone on the bus, through to the collection of art and artifacts we have picked up in our travels.
I love seeing my friends’ art, and finding beautiful objects from around the world in flea markets. Mexican and African fabrics, objects and artwork are some of my favourites – for example Tree of Life sculptures and Nkisi ritual objects.
I recently picked up a wonderful piece of 70s Russian folk sculpture – Dymkovo - at a flea market in St Petersburg, which I absolutely love. Everything has a story to tell, and I am particularly drawn to symbolic works that can be read in a multitude of ways.
Symbolism and narrative are very important to me, and I love to read as much as possible about the different ways of expression, and different ways of telling similar stories. I think artists have naturally inquisitive minds, so there is no such thing as boredom!
What’s your favorite thing about clay?
Feeling it in my hands… Time also becomes different when you work with clay. There can be the immediacy of formation, physically manipulating something to make the shapes that you want, and it is satisfying and instantly fulfilling. But then you must be patient and wait for it to dry, place it in the kiln, and wait some more to see it on the other side when it is transformed.
If you are successful, you have the immediacy once again of painting, dipping or spraying your glazes before your creations must go back in the kiln and you wait once more. It’s nerve wracking! I love feeling the duality of time: both immediate, and patience.
What has been the most challenging part of pursuing ceramics?
Learning how to work bigger without disaster striking!
Luckily I work in Clayspace Studios in Margate, with the amazing owners Bridget and Iain, who provide endless practical guidance and support.
When I make mistakes they help me problem solve a resolution or rescue mission! I am self-taught in ceramics, and with the guidance of wonderful mentors and the Potters Dictionary, I have learned a lot over the last few years.
I approach construction and glazing from a sculptor and painter’s perspective, so sometimes I must remind myself to consider the chemical composition of different glazes!
When I started using AMACO Underglazes it was a revelation, as they are so easy to use, mixable, and true to application colour! The Underglazes really expanded my practice.
Which AMACO products do you always find yourself going back to? How do these products speak to your work?
The AMACO products I use every day are the AMACO Velvet Underglazes; I just can’t get enough of them! I use them on top of a bright white porcelain for a really vibrant colour, and sometimes leave them without glaze, as I enjoy the beautiful matt finish. My favourite colours at the moment are Light Pink and Medium Blue.
Who was your childhood hero?
Patti Smith. And she’s still my hero. She loves poetry and Frida Kahlo, and makes inspirational music. She teaches kindness, strength and love, and the freedom to be yourself, which I think is an important thing for young women.
If you could hop on a plane right now and go anywhere, where would you go and why?
I would really like to take a trip to Mexico to visit Frida Kahlo’s house, and explore some of the ancient temples in the Yucatan Peninsula. Mexican art really inspires me, with bold colours and fantastic imagery in terracotta and earthenware, so I would love to meet some of the makers. What I love about AMACO Velvet Glazes is the rich pigment, which allows me to work with Mexican inspired colour palettes.
What's your favorite book?
Angela Carter’s Fairy Tales and Hermann Hesse Fairytales are two books I return to time and time again. I have a copy of them both on my desk, plus extra copies for around the house and studio.
When you aren’t making art, how do you spend your time?
I love to travel and explore the world with my partner Rufus Dayglo. It’s really important to learn about other cultures and ways of life, and I feel very inspired everywhere we travel. I love to get lost down the back streets - it’s where we always find beautiful craftsmen and women, and beautiful hidden architectural delights. At home I work every day in the studio, then curl up at night with Rufus and our Cat Sabrina, and read… we spend a lot of time in second hand bookshops. I just love being in love – in love with life, in love with my partner, in love with making art!