My workshop is situated in a quaint neighbourhood called Batignolles in the 17th arrondissements of Paris. My workshop has two sides; the city side is a gallery open to passers-by, to neighbours and to friends. I work on the other side overlooking a small and typically French inner courtyard. This has been my sanctuary and creative space since 2007.
I have thrown pots for over twenty years. My story began in the Burgundi province in Puisaye in 2000 where I attended a pottery school. My instructor was an American who was inspired by the Japanese ceramic art form. Since then pottery became my profession, passion and a way of life. I first had my workshop in Montreuil then Vernon before I settled in Batignolles where I am now. I now spend my days seeking new harmonies; discovering new colour blends, different combinations of materials and shapes. Making pottery involves endless hours of experimentation, patience and determination. At the same time, it is important to let go and let the clay express itself.
I mostly work with bone china. The translucence and softness of the kaolin suits my temperament. Being a complex material, it requires very precise and gentle movements because the material memorises every small gesture. For large pieces, I use stoneware, particularly from Saint-Amand. I am new to glazed stoneware – we will see how this new relationship unfolds.
The ancient Greek word for ceramics means ‘container’, thus made to contain. I make objects to contain. My bowls, cups, vases, plates and jars are inspired by the east. Similar to Charlotte Perriand, I find simple forms the most elegant.
I often visit museums for inspiration. I then recreate the essence of the ceramics that I see in my own unique style. I am often commissioned to make ceramics and given free rein to work out the design, colour and material. Each piece is unique and given its own personality. I also receive orders for complete dinner sets that require absolute conformity. For this I use moulds to produce exact replicas.
For years I have worked with black and white, iron blue and khaki glazes. Through years of experimentation I deeply appreciate the character of these colours and know how they express themselves together and separately on different shapes and materials. More recently, I have worked with more colours. I created a glaze called “Caribbean”: all sandy seabed and light. The other one is called “sea shell” which is pale, pearly and forever shifting.
A thrown pot must have time to dry slowly and regularly otherwise it will split. Only then can it be fired, glazed, and then fired again for a second time at 1280°. Potters have a close relationship with all three elements; earth, fire and water. For any ceramicist, fire is always the most powerful, formidable and overbearing partner. Fire will show you the strengths and weaknesses of any piece. I have learned a lot from fire.
I use a metallic nib like a calligraphy pen to write patterns on the pots and fix this with a third firing. I also used old lace that I find in flea markets in the French countryside to imprint subtle patterns on the bowls. Once fired the fragile lace gets forever imprinted. This process of successively layering on the same pot is fascinating.
My work is made in movement, in every sense of the word. As the wheel turns and the clay moves with this power – there must be balance between the internal movement created from within and from without. The slight movements needed must also be in harmony with your mental energy. When I am throwing pots I am simultaneously meditative and active.
Pottery is a very introverted activity and often there is danger of only focussing on oneself and nothing beyond this. Throwing pots is like swimming – a very solitary activity. Therefore, in life I need to exchange ideas and work with others to move forward and grow. I confer regularly with an archaeologist at the Cluny Museum for information about ceramics from all cultures and the methods that have been used over the centuries. I have also worked with Franck Desplats, who decorates and paints the bowls I make. In addition, three times a year, I organise forums that bring together craftsmen and artists to exchange ideas and knowledge.