Interview with ceramic artist Matthias Kaiser
The White Show
30th October - 1st March 2016
What does white mean in context within your work?
Clay on the wheel is like millions of building blocks that are twisted in a gentle motion and stop in an enduring gesture. The shape deserves undivided attention. Without the veil of colour or decoration every nuance can be appreciated.
How do you use white in you work- technique /style /materials?
I use stoneware with white slips as seen in this exhibition, but also porcelain in various shades of white and white glazes made from reed ash, straw ash or feldspar.
What work have you made for the exhibition - type of work/ techniques/ style?
Most of the pieces in the show are vases. A shape that I like a lot is the wayward vase, it represents both my European heritage, with the neck that is moved to one side of the vessel being an influence from the German Bauhaus movement and the closed and flattened, then reopened, body of the vase being an adaptation from one of my Japanese teachers´s classic Karatsu-style jars.Another new shape is called the "lost vase", because this vase´s neck remains only in a sort of skeletal way, as bony columns that support a floating rim. I use only unrefined stoneware clay, from the Czech republic and also an Austrian clay that I dig by hand quite near my studio in the Austrian countryside. Those clays have impurities (mostly iron ore and quartz) that add an extra dimension to the finished piece because they are able to communicate visually as texture and illustrate the clay´s origin and the local geology. The pieces are covered with several layers of slip, fired, treated with iron ore, re-fired and finally polished.
What does the colour white mean to you?
When I used to study Sufism in Iran, we were usually sitting in the basement of the master´s house, wearing crowns and oversized white clothes that his wife had sown for us. Meditating, eating sugar cubes, drinking tea, always paying attention to the sheikh. We were supposed to have only one of everything. One plate, one glass, one lighter, one colour to wear. White. It represented devotion to a singular purpose as opposed to the distraction of the multitude. Even though my focus in life has now changed and I think it is ok to have more than one vase, the symbolism stuck.