Q&A: Lise Herud Braten
Updated: Jun 6, 2019
"My primary interests are texture and natural, undulating forms, and I am constantly exploring new techniques, blends of materials and an array of found objects I use as tools."
Ceramicist Lise Herud Braten’s exploration of a diverse range of working methods and techniques means that each of her pieces is highly individual and distinctive. Her extremely textured works are imbued with visible traces of her processes which speak to the physicality of her working process and intense manipulation of the clay.
Lise’s work fits in perfectly in our ‘From This Land’ exhibition which aims to celebrate connections to nature. Based on her own direct encounters with nature, the works are tied incredibly closely to the earth in their raw, sinuous forms.
Intrigued by Lise's remarkable one-of-a-kind works, we sent her questions, hoping to gain insight into her unique way of working.
You describe how you are drawn to experimenting with new ways of working, which means that no two of your pieces are quite the same. Tell us more about your exciting way of working.
L: I started off learning to throw and striving to make the perfect round bowl, perhaps due to my background in haute couture, until one day I felt really constrained by this search for perfection. I started intuitively distorting and ripping the pieces, scraping and smearing the clay to add texture, and this was really the start of a long journey of exploration. I now use many hybrid techniques, some I make up by experimentation and some are established, mainly Japanese methods. A piece can start off on the wheel in the shape of a conventional vase, then being completely turned on it’s head and distorted like the “Pod” series of pieces currently on show at the gallery. Others are carved out of a block of clay, then sometimes put back on the wheel to see what happens. Some times really interesting shapes occur, other times it all falls flat and you have to wedge the clay up and start again.
How would you say your upbringing in the landscapes of Norway has shaped your working process?
L: I have always been drawn to the outdoors, preferring to play outside as a kid and using whatever I found around me to create my own universe. I guess there is still a big element of this in my work, I keep a collection of rocks, shells and bits of wood for inspiration, and anything with an interesting texture or edge to it can become a tool. I often find the shape of a weather worn rock with fissures and cracks can be as beautiful as any sculpture made by the human hand, and although I don’t try to copy nature I hope that the feeling this rock has given me is somehow imbued into my work.
I often find the shape of a weather worn rock with fissures and cracks can be as beautiful as any sculpture made by the human hand, and although I don’t try to copy nature I hope that the feeling this rock has given me is somehow imbued into my work.
You site your interest in urban decay as being a main influence of your work. What are your thoughts on the relationship between urban areas and nature?
L: Although I grew up in nature, I have spent over half my life in London surrounded by the urban landscape. I often find it a little too noisy, busy and hectic, and find myself needing to connect to nature to keep grounded, creative and happy. I have learned to find beauty in everything around me, and in place of a really interesting rock I might come across in the mountains, I now seek out similar details in crumbling concrete walls, flaked layers of paint or a beautifully rusty fencepost on my way to the tube. Everywhere I look I find small abstract artworks made up of layers of old paint, torn off advertising posters, dirt and grime. Pebble dash on a house or wall that’s slightly crumbling and revealing all the lovely colours in the stones remind me of beaches in the summer, and studying the endless textures and colour variations in the bark of the trees I pass in the street is a constant source of inspiration.'
Who would you say is your biggest artistic influence?
L: I don’t have one favourite artist, but look at many different areas of the arts for inspiration. I am fascinated by the sheer scale, weight and volume of paint on the canvases of Anselm Kiefer, and I’m a huge admirer of wood artists Eleanor Lakelin and Wycliffe Stutchbury, both of whom work with found or imperfect pieces of wood. Ceramic artists I love are Yoshimi Futamura from Japan, and Mette Maya Gregersen from Denmark, both working in a very natural and textural way.
Prior to working in ceramics, you pursued a career in the haute couture industry. What inspired you to move from the precision of haute couture to the creative freedom of ceramics?
L: I don’t think it was so much an inspiration but more of a real need to feel more free and more connected to nature at a certain point in my life. I still love fashion and always will, and I think there are many parallels. In both the material is soft and pliable to work with, and you create a new shape from a starting point that is different. I was always drawn to fabrics with texture, and building up layers of cloth to create interesting effects. I guess in a way I’m now making in clay the kind of work I couldn’t find clients for in haute couture.
By Nicole Kitsberg