Hand-built porcelain, unglazed
H. 4.5 x dia. 8.3 cm
About Josefina Isaza
"As a ceramic artist, I am highly conscious of my spatial environment in relation to my material, and often immerse myself in its meditative qualities. This in turn is conveyed in the work and creates a highly visual and tactile surface informed by my love for nature and fine detail. I intend to provoke multiple sensory modalities, and thus spark a curiosity in the viewer. My work demonstrates how visual stimuli can be achieved by grouping single elements to form a larger gestalt whole, as reflected throughout nature."
Josefina Isaza is a Colombian-born ceramic artist based in London.
She gained her BFA in Crafts from the University Of The Arts, Philadelphia, where she continued for a year as an artist-in-residence. During this time, she worked on completing a large-scale commission for a permanent installation that made its way home to her native country, Colombia. This was also part of a solo exhibition, Horizon.
She then travelled to Tokoname, Japan for a further residency at Kyouei-Gamma!, where she had the good fortune to be taught by many ceramic masters, allowing her to embody the freedom, and spontaneity she observed in their practice.
Josefina became a selected member of the Craft Potters Association in 2021 and was selected to be a part of the new members exhibition held in 2022 where she showed six of her sculptures.
Over the years, she has developed her own style largely influenced by Japanese contemporary aesthetics, concepts of imperfect beauty, and close observation of nature.
What was your first artistic experience?
J: I first came across clay when I was about 10 in school and was immediately hooked. We were allowed to go to the art room whenever we wanted and I ended up spending most of my break times there just playing with clay.
Where did your relationship with art begin?
J: I grew up in a family of musicians and both of my parents were fans of art so I have been exposed to the art scene all of my life.
What first drew you to porcelain and creating patterns in your work?
J: I became interested in working with porcelain when I was at university, as I found the clay not only challenging but also beautiful in its raw state. It feels much nicer to handle to me than a high grog clay body and I love the fact that it was once considered to be more valuable than gold.
I love to work with small detail and make the process very involved. I believe that glazing and or decorating should take as long as or longer than the making process and I love to experiment with and learn about all the decorating techniques that I can get my hands on. I have many different decorating processes that I use for different bodies of work but it all comes down to the detail and involvement that draws me in in as it becomes meditative.
What are your biggest influences?
J: Japanese contemporary ceramics, post 1945 art, plants, the sea and the microscopic world.
What’s been the biggest challenge in your work?
J: Not making mistakes when decorating, as they are not easily remedied.
Can you talk us through a usual day in your studio?
J: I usually arrive at the studio at about 3pm and work until 10:30 or 11pm. I love working in the later part of the day as I feel more active and have less distractions. Depending on what I am working on, I will arrive and prepare my clay, or decorating materials and begin to work taking short breaks in between to stretch my body and give my eyes a rest.
Do you listen to anything as you work?
J: Rarely. I like to work in silence as I feel that my decoration has its own rhythm and so I find music to be distracting. Occasionally, I will listen to an audiobook or a short podcast.
What’s your favourite reaction in clay that you can create?
J: I love to create visual and tactile surfaces on my work that make people want to interact with the pieces.
How important is the material itself to your work?
J: Porcelain is the most important material that I work with. I currently use Limoges porcelain, which I buy, from a clay supply shop. I love to work with porcelain because it is so pure and It allows me to achieve the surfaces that I am looking for. I also love the way it feels in my hands as I am working with it. It’s creamy and smooth as opposed to stoneware that can feel gritty and rough.
How do you decide when a form works? What are you looking for in a final piece?
J: Working intuitively helps me to change the form as I am working on it. I am constantly making decisions on making a piece that is harmonious within the asymmetrical world. I embrace imperfections in my work as this is an element that shows that it is not an industrially made piece.
How important is tactility to your work?
J: This is possibly one of the most important elements of my work. I want my pieces to be tactile both visually and to the touch as ceramics is a medium that is always being engaged with by the viewer.
Is functionality important to your work?
J: Yes and no, depending on the body of work, however I consider sculpture to be functional as well as it serves a purpose within the space it occupies so it really depends on what you class as function.
Can you tell us more about the work featured in our Winter Exhibition?
J: I started working on the spotted pieces back in 2018 and have developed it from there. I had a blank piece on my table in front of me that I had been looking for something different to do in terms of decoration and I had been looking at cell structures and polka dots quite a lot. I picked up the piece and started spotting it using a paintbrush but it wasn’t the surface that I was looking for. Over time, I have developed my technique and have learnt to apply the dots and control the size by using different gauge syringe tips. When applying the dots, I tend to work in clusters of 5 or 7 and they start to build a rhythm and random pattern of their own. By putting on a random pattern to a symmetrical piece, it allows me to achieve some sense of asymmetry. All of the dots are applied to the piece one by one allowing me to reach the meditative state, which I find so immersive as well as conveying a sense of time.
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