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Artist Q&A: Lucia Zamberletti

Portrait photograph by Carlotta Coppo Photography

'...I started to notice everything: the views, the mountains, the colour of the sky, the changing of the seasons, the green surrounding us and I understood and gave a different meaning to what beauty means to me.'


Lucia Zamberletti is an Italian ceramicist whose constructed clay sculptures take inspiration from nature. After years of working in the fashion system as a product developer, the need to create with her own hands led her to working with clay and now to her own studio in Varese, Italy, and exhibiting her work across the world. Her intuitive process is sparked from a love of being surrounded by nature and to observe the changing of the seasons. Beginning with individually considered elements, each sculpted, finished and fired in many different ways, clashes and harmonies of colour, texture and shape are skilfully bought together to create her final totem-like forms.

All studio/work in progress images by the artist

All final artwork images by Carlotta Coppo Photography

With an undoubtable voice of their own, Lucia's sculpture can easily stand alone, however to correspond with our online solo exhibition 'Lucia Zamerberletti: Unexpected Connections', we couldn't resist the opportunity to find out more with a few questions to the artist about her transition to ceramics, her relationship with nature and favourite reactions:

Has your previous work as a fashion consultant come into your artwork or do you see these as two different parts of your life?

L: 'The method to design a collection has stayed with me, there are certain passages - from envision to the final result, choosing the right material and shapes, thinking about colours and effects - that are similar to what I was doing back then, although now with clay I have more freedom. It Is like learning how to ride a bike and once you find the balance you will never forget it.'

'Also I have often thought that my craving of developing a collection with such a variety of different pieces is similar to offering a “wardrobe” of possibles combinations to “dress” one’s home.'

A love for nature and being surrounded by it drives your work, has this always been something you've grown up with?

L: 'Absolutely not, I’ve grown up in Varese and for most of my life I haven’t paid attention to what has always being here, I didn’t have the eyes to catch it, my mind was focusing on something else. Then suddenly (when I had my first child and we decided to move back here after living in Milan and travelling a lot for work) I started to notice everything: the views, the mountains, the colour of the sky, the changing of the seasons, the green surrounding us and I understood and gave a different meaning to what beauty means to me.'

'Nowadays there isn’t a single day in which I don’t focus on nature, It could be a cloud, the shape of a bloom, the movements of leaves in a windy day, a wild spontaneous tiny flower growing up in the street, a spectacular shelf mushroom growing on a tree in some garden which for example I noticed the other day while driving my kids to school. They have always been there, everything is out there, nature is surrounding us everywhere, Varese is certainly not an extraordinary ecosystem, but the extraordinary is under our eyes, we just need to pay attention and make space in our mind for these kind of sights - like saying a silent prayer, having a spiritual practice.'

How does where your studio is based influence your work?

L: 'The fact that I now have a home studio has deeply changed my practice. When I'm in a full production period I tend to go in the studio as much as I can, whenever I have a minute I’m out there, making something or thinking about how to build the collection. I like a chaotic studio, where everything is in sight, raw pieces, old pieces, colour tests, glazes and tools. Then when I'm at the stage that all the elements are done, and I start to put together the final pieces, I tidy everything up, clean and get organised.'

What are you looking for in a final piece? How do you know when you have the right elements together?

L: 'I usually spend days trying different combinations, it requires a lot of active time and thoughts. The “putting together” part of the process is something I always looking forward to. There is a certain moment where instinctively I recognise the final sculpture and think “this is its best version, the right one”.

Do you have any particular reaction/finish/material that you're particularly excited about at the moment?

L: 'For this last collection I have been very excited about the use of coloured fire clays, barbotines and the rustic 3d effect they create, both under or on top of the glazes. For example, the flower top of Bloomen #72 which has a combination that immediately felt right where a mint glaze is decorated on top with this rusty orange barbotine’s brushstrokes thus creating a crumbled surface; another example is the stem of Bloomen #75 (which is one of my favourite piece of the entire collection), the result of an acid yellow engobe, partially covered with a pastel orange glaze and then “stained” with an antique pink barbotine; A different example is the top flower of Bloomen #71 where I applied the green barbotine on the raw piece and fired it only once.'

You have talked about whether you feel you call yourself an artist or artisan, and when we met six years ago you were trying to find a place your work might fit. Is it important to you to say your work is art, craft or design etc? Have your thoughts about this changed over the last six years?

L: 'As soon as I read the question I immediately realise that I don't need to identify myself with a role, it really doesn’t matter, neither is putting a label on what I’m doing. Im extremely grateful of developing this kind of job-journey, to be able to work with my hands, to put a lot of energy and create something which is one of a kind but limited. I’ve also lately felt a deep sense of satisfaction when people really appreciate the pieces and start their own collection and I'm thankful for that.'




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