Earlier this year ceramic artist Malin Ida Eriksson invited Architerior to visit her studio located in the old porcelain factory in Gustavsberg outside of Stockholm. Malin’s upcoming solo show at Tyresö Konsthall which opens 22nd October was the perfect moment for an interview with Architerior, diving deeper into her work process, inspirations and techniques. Malin sees the journey from concept to finished piece as all part of the artwork, with performance art being a key element in her creating process. In this interview Malin shares her thoughts on practicing art in a sustainable way and experiencing new ways of approaching her material in a research led manner. Malin’s work blurs the lines between performance art, painting and sculpture.
Malin, how did you find your way into art?
It wasn’t a straight line. I was brought up in a family of musicians and studied to become a singer, but that wasn’t my way of expressing myself. It didn’t come natural, but creating with my hands did. I tried an art course in painting, graphics and sculpture and I completely fell in love with the material clay. It was so malleable and plastic, and I felt like I could do anything with it. Ever since I came in contact with clay it has been my number one material. After that first course, I applied for further education to learn more and the line straightened.
So was education in art a part of your journey to become an artist?
My education has been very important for my artistic practice. I’ve acquired a set of tools which I keep in my mental (and physical) toolbox. Education gave me a deeper understanding in the material as well as in how to practice art in a sustainable way. You may find yourself in different mental states when making and creating – filled with inspiration and joy or finding no source of inspiration. All artists have better and worse days, and my education have prepared me for that.
What techniques do you use?
I would describe my practice as research led, which means I am researching different topics in my chosen material. Right now I research transitions and movement in different ways and this has captured me for some time. My current work begins with a performance art piece. During this performance, I fill unfired ceramic vessels with water and ink, and in front of an audience I wait for these vessels to crack and for the black colored water to leak onto a paper. On this paper, a painting is made by chance in front of the viewers. The next step of the process is to translate the two dimensional painting into a three dimensional sculpture made in clay. I think of the paintings as sketches – they are made to inspire the sculptures in shape but the material always has its say on what is possible to build and not, and my hands play a part as well on the final result.
How would you define your art style?
I don’t think of my art as having a certain style, which makes this question interesting. Probably because my practice is research led. I believe that we all have things we are investigating in life, more or less outspoken, and that artists are persons who translate those investigations into an artistic experience – sculptural, aesthetic or performative. Right now I am investigating movement. It is a movement initiated with the action of making the unfired vessel, using this vessel by filling it with water and ink. The movement continues out from the cracks onto the paper and creates a painting made by chance. The movement evolves from the action of making the clay vessel, to running out of the cracks appearing, transforming into a painting which I later translate into a sculpture. I am not sure where it will move in the future, but it will probably not end until the day I do. In my practice I blur the lines between performance art, painting and sculpture.
Has your style or technique changed over time?
I think it’s quite consistent, and rather evolving incrementally. The process began already in 2014 when I was doing a course in functional ware at HDK Valand where I was studying for my bachelor degree. For this specific course we were supposed to show one finished cup to drink out of and one container to pour from. I was at the time not interested in making functional ware, but wanted to think about the meaning of functional objects instead, which led me to making the cup and the container dysfunctional. When making ceramics, you have to fire the clay to high temperatures (around 1280 degrees Celsius) to make them functional. I skipped that part of the process and made a movie in which I fill a coffee pot with coffee and pour it from the pot into the cup, and watched them slowly dissolve. I am in no way the first ceramic artist to work with unfired clay, and at this time I was mostly inspired by the ceramic artist Clare Twomey who had been working with unfired/low fired clay, amongst others. This evolved from the dysfunctional ware to thoughts on imprints and how to make the staines from the act of leaking to remain as a recording of something that has happened, which made me work with ink instead of coffee, and then it evolved into the performance piece.
Which artists or art styles have inspired you?
A list of inspiration could be long, and it grows in parallel to my growth I guess. As earlier said, I am inspired by the ceramic artist Clare Twomey and alongside her another ceramicist working with unfired clay, Phoebe Cummings. These two artists really opened my eyes on the versatility of this material, and opened up all the possibilities when working with clay. Otherwise, I write quite a lot in my practice and writings and texts by the ceramic artist Alison Britton always fills me with awe. Two other ceramic artists that I find inspiring and who I have had the honor to have as tutors the last semester, Mia E Göransson and Eva Hild. In my opinion both of them have a strong sense of aesthetics in combination with a deep artistic practice that I admire. For my performance art I am inspired by Marina Abramovics strong sense of presence.
When starting on a new artwork, what goes through your head and how does your planning and creation process look like?
My process is slow. The idea of working with the theme of transition in material and its intrinsic movement started already 2014 and has continued ever since. When starting to work on a new sculpture it is a more simple question to answer, I have the answer in the sketches (or paintings) that the vessels created. I make a selection from the sketches, I trace the lines with a pencil to get to know the shape properly and then I put the new sketch on the wall after which I build the sculpture. At this moment I am in the state of making, which to me means that I don’t think that much, but rather follow the lines.
What are you working on right now?
At the moment I am working on my upcoming solo show at Tyresö Konsthall which opens the 22nd of October and ends the 23rd of November. Beside that I am showing pieces together with my writing circle at the outdoor gallery at Sergels torg in the center of Stockholm. That exhibition is up until the 26th of October. I have not been able to be in the studio lately because of several exhibitions that got a bit too tightly squeezed into my schedule, so I am really looking forward to getting my hands back in the material again. After all, that’s the part of my practice I love the most! Time spent with clay.
Inspiration is important when creating, where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm, where both of my parents worked in the orchestra. It is weird, but that opera house feels like a second home, and when sitting in those red velvet chairs an amazing calm settles all through my body. I am always leaving that room filled with inspiration. Otherwise, I am inspired by, and find peace in, things that grow – plants and nature.
In ten years time, where do you see yourself and your creative work?
It is hard to foresee the future. Life tends to take turns you did not expect in the beginning. But I have wishes for the future. In ten years time, I am forty years old and I am living on my art practice. Maybe I recently started my doctors degree in craft specializing in ceramic art. Time will tell!
If you could go back to the beginning of your art career, what advise would you give yourself?
In the beginning of my career I was a bit worried about how people judged me, my art, and my lack of knowledge when handling clay – there were so many persons around me that were more skilled with the material than I was. If I would give my self any advice I would tell me to stop thinking about other people and focus on me and my art studies. I would tell me to stop thinking about what other people seem to want to see from me and focus on what I really found interesting. If interest and curiosity comes from within, it is easier to honestly communicate your thoughts and your practice to an audience. I still have some work to do with this part, I think it is impossible to ignore the fact that there is a receiver to the artwork, which I am happy there is since I want some kind of response or reaction on the work I make! Although, I believe that it is important to not get carried away by the will to please an audience to be able to stay true to yourself. But this is the beauty of getting older – it gets better and a little bit easier with every year.
Video from Architerior’s studio visit to ceramic artist Malin Ida Eriksson