Architerior talked to Gothenburg based Malwina Kleparska whose interest in craft and clay has been part of her life from a very early age and resulted in a professional ceramic art career. We talked about her thoughts on sculptural forms combined with functional objects and discussed her wish to explore the negative form. Malwina likes to leave lots of finger prints in the soft clay in order to show the process embedded in the finished piece. In this interview you’ll get a deeper understanding of Malwinas work, and also the emotional roller coaster that working with clay can be.
Malwina, how did you find your way into art?
It’s hard to tell but I think being placed in a Steiner school as a child has had some kind of impact on me. Steiner education is very much focused on creating with your hands which can be tricky for some people but for me it was perfect. I guess I already had it in me in a way. I loved drawing, playing and crafting with my older sister and brother and creating things as a kid. By the age of 9 my mom put me on a ceramics evening class which I did for 12 years and then decided to take it seriously and applied for art school.
So education in art was a big part of your journey to become an artist?
Yes! I think art school was really important for me. You get to study the thing you’re really interested in and get an insight into the art world and all people that have already done everything before you. Studying art is so important as you learn to see your place amongst everyone else, you realise how influenced you are by others, no matter how cool and special you think you are when you start. The most important thing is that you have time and teachers who help you develop your own language and eventually develop a personal style.
What techniques do you use?
I’m working in stoneware clay, which is a strong and durable material. The techniques I use are coiling, pinching and rolling out slabs. When building my ceramic pieces, I’m making sure to leave lots of finger prints in the soft clay. I want to show the process embedded in the finished piece and there shouldn’t be any doubt that the objects are made by hand. For that reason, I don’t tend to work much with glazes as I want the different clays to speak for themselves. But sometimes I like to finish it off with a shiny clear glaze or with a vibrant blue.
How would you define your art style?
My work is based on traditional hand-building techniques, where sculptural forms are combined with functional objects. One of my fascinations lies in exploring the negative form – the hole, which in itself becomes an interesting shape within my functional sculptures.
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Has your style or technique changed over time?
Definitely! I started making very illustrative sculptures. If you scroll 100 m down on my Instagram you get to see very old works. It was mostly mutated dogs. Some had 6 legs some had two heads and from then on I have made the sculptures more and more abstract. After finishing art school I decided to combine my sculptural work with function and that’s where I am right now.
Which artists or art styles have inspired you?
There is so much that I find inspiring, everything from other artists like Barbara Hepworth and Isamu Noguchi to architecture, furniture design or weird stuff I find in the forest. It can just be a curve of a chair or a hollow tree stem that captures my attention.
How does your planning and creation process look like?
When I have time to work on my own projects and get a new idea I get very excited and rush to the studio to have it made as quickly as I can. Sometime I manage to scribble it down on some loose bit of paper but most times I just make it in clay straight away. Sometime the process is frustrating because half way there I feel like I hate it and I get angry with the piece. But I have learnt to push trough and by the time I finish it I manage to get it together. The process is long from an idea to making of an object in clay, waiting for it to dry, fire it, glaze it (without messing it all up) and then firing again. It’s a bit of an emotional roller coaster.
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What are you working on right now?
I have had a really busy year with two exhibitions in the spring and lots of big orders for my retailers. At the moment I am finishing off several orders and then I am going to enjoy some time of making things for myself. I have a pile of things I need to explore!
What does it mean to you to be able to work with art?
It means being poor but happy! Working with ceramics doesn’t make you rich and I have asked myself many times why I have chosen this particular career. The answer is that I cannot think of anything else to do or any other material I would rather work with. I feel very lucky and privileged to be able to work with ceramics, even though it sometimes is hard to make the ends meet. But the feeling of completely immersing yourself in clay, which is so tactile and be able to work and make things out of it is incredible!
If you could go back to the beginning of your art career, what advise would you give yourself?
Be patient, work hard and everything will be ok!
Malwinas pieces are on display with Arranging Things and 28 Quadrat in Stockholm, Yonobi in Copenhagen and Studio Yen in The Netherlands. Explore artworks for sale in Malwinas webshop