Your place to explore new perspectives on British art from 1900 to now. Through interviews, films, image galleries and essays, we uncover the creative lives of the people behind the art on our walls.
Clay Conversations: Annette Lindenberg
[ Artist in Focus, Artist Interview )
As part of our ongoing Clay Conversations series, we interviewed the fascinating Annette Lindenberg, the talented artist behind the stunning Rock, a significant addition to the collection from the Golder-Thompson Gift.
How did you get into ceramics?
I really got into ceramics while I was studying a BA course at Cardiff Metropolitan University. I was on a multidisciplinary course called ‘Artist Designer: Maker’, that allowed me to explore lots of creative avenues before specialising.
For a long time I thought clay wasn’t really interesting. In my head ceramics was “just mud”, so I was much more set on the idea that I was going to make furniture but kept being drawn in by how clay felt in my hands. The thing that finally cemented for me that clay was my thing was when I discovered glaze chemistry. A whole world opened up and I realised the endless possibilities – I could put things I had found into my recipes, learn about what different types of firings do and how they impact glaze and clay… my brain just went bang with ideas! Of course the technique I use was also part of that story because I was making things that felt authentically me that I could experiment on top of. They were little excavated clay treasures that began as a block and then became something more.
Which artists inspire you?
That’s a very good question. I often come back to Lucie Rie when I think about inspirational people. This is possibly in part because of our shared Austrian background that I can see through some of her colour palettes, but also because she truly persevered and continued to make even when she didn’t have immediate success here in the UK. I get the feeling that success wasn’t really her goal, she loved to make which is evident in her work and clearly enjoyed experimenting throughout her life. I think the thing that brings people back to her is that her pieces have an effortless beauty to them; they’re delicate and not forced with a quiet timelessness to them.
A lot of the artists I am inspired by I will probably never know the name of. I love walking around museums and looking at artefacts from all over the world – from small hand painted clay vessels, to shards of larger works that leave you wondering what the rest of the object looked like.
I understand that your work and practice are inspired by Japanese ceramics and techniques. How did this interest start and what do you find interesting about them?
Yes it is, pretty much everything I make is done using the Kurinuki method. In all honesty, I think the method found me, rather than that I found it. It came about at a time when I really needed tranquility in my life and I got hooked. I’d been reading the book ‘The Tea bowl, East and West’ by Bonnie Kemske and was drawn into the world of tea bowls. I find myself completely zoning out when I carve, my mind can wander, yet I’m very present. I feel like there’s almost a dance to the way it works, starting with a block that has to be prepared in the right way and beginning to carve to find what’s inside of it. I think maybe it’s the lack of planning I enjoy – they’re not your classic production pottery works, they will all end up somewhat different.
Could you tell us about the techniques you use in your work?
The technique is called Kurinuki, it’s a method in which blocks of clay are carved to produce work. Unlike other methods where you are actively building the object and can therefore see all around it at any one time, with Kurinuki you are taking away and sometimes verge on a collapse that you cannot repair the thinner you go. The method offers an often imperfect result with an uneven wall but also a humanness that I feel is sometimes lacking in methods, such as throwing, where perfectly round works are usually the aim. Kurinuki can warp in firings and it often emphasises things that you might want to hide, I personally think there’s something beautiful about it and find myself disappointed when something has come out too round.
Could you tell us about your work in the Golder-Thomson gift?
The piece in the Golder-Thomson gift is actually one of the first porcelain pieces I made after finishing my BA. It was so nice to see a picture of it as it had been a while since I last thought about that piece. It’s made from porcelain and stoneware with a little band that runs through its centre. I made two in that style – one with a horizontal line and one with a vertical line. The inspiration behind the works I do with lines is usually pebbles I’ve found on the beach. I have this idea in my head that maybe one day they could all come together to create a continuous line, but that when they leave me to go live their own lives with people, each person has a little snippet of that pebble line.
What are your plans, for the future, what you are currently working on?
Well I’ve always got my eye on something whether that be a new show I want to do or a new material I’m wanting to experiment with. I was very fortunate to recently complete a commission that’s going to the United Nations in a couple years time that sparked new glaze ideas for me. The research I had to do for those works are informing pieces I am currently working on for the collections I am producing for my galleries.
Find out more about Annette Lindenberg and her work on her on Instagram account.