Continuing our annual In the Window partnership, the Bluecoat Display Centre, Design and Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCI) and Liverpool Irish Festival selected emerging ceramics talent Laura Matikaite as the 2022 featured artist.
Asking candidates to submit work pertaining to ‘hunger’, Laura’s work was selected in part on account of the domestic nature of her vessels, but primarily because of the juxtaposition of play and solemnity within her series. Like humans -and hunger- the work shows the duplicity of need versus want; vital versus luxe and seriousness versus levity.
Below, Laura helps us understand her route to creativity and the cycle she travels in creating her series.
In the Window: Laura Matikaite
“My path of ‘self-actualisation’ is a visually lead self-expression, through the exploitation of three-dimensional forms”, Laura Matikaite, Aug 2022.
Ceramics can be compared to cooking. The ingredients you choose in creating the meal, or vessel, will determine the outcome; select different ingredients and out comes something else. At different times we crave different flavours.
As an artist, I use clay to express different ideas and to materialise thoughts. I create individual vessels that explore my curiosities and tell different stories over the course of time. Each time the work is approached with new experience, new possibilities and no reason not to try something new; the work grows and evolves.
I have been specialising in handmade ceramics that I take through many processes. My making often involves throwing, turning, altering, fettling, slip application, bisque firing, glaze making, glazing and glaze firing. I list the numerous tasks to demonstrate there are many stages at which a change can be made. I experiment with glaze chemistry and create my own glazes. This determines many other factors like colour, texture, opacity and the visual stimulation of the finished ceramic object.
My take on the concept of ‘hunger’ is that hunger can be an uncomfortable physiological feeling and need; or a more positive, action led, self-seeking, motivational tool. Hunger can be a stimulating and positive motivator. Hunger is a basic and primal need, similar to an instinct, and can play a major role in motivating behaviour, physiologically and psychologically, as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs demonstrates.
Once the physiological hunger is met (vital for survival), we can concentrate on the metaphorical hunger; the hunger that evokes curiosity and the psychological need for self-actualisation that leads to a road of discovery. Self-actualisation can come from ‘the full use and the exploitation of talents, capabilities and potentialities’ (A Theory of Human Motivation, Maslow, 1943). As there are so many variables, there can be many answers.
I have been living in Ireland for the past 20 years now, but I remember my Lithuanian heritage and the aesthetics of where I was born. Moving to Ireland was a lifestyle shift. Being fully immersed in two different countries, cultures and language (not knowing English or Irish when I first moved to Ireland), visual language was the best form of communication. Visual aesthetics broadened my vision in the pre-internet times! This is perhaps why I celebrate duality; yin and yang, black and white, monochrome and polychrome, hunger and fulfilment.
The contrasting world of monochrome and polychrome
Monochrome = varying tones of black and white. Monochrome work tends to bring out subtleties through deep observation providing a calm, sleek and considered finish.
Polychrome = varied colours or decorated in several colours. Polychrome awakens the possibility of play and expression. Colour can have an almost instant emotive response. It elicits a different energy or ‘feel’ than something more monotone.
Relationship with colour
Observing these qualities, I interpret my work through these different lenses. My process goes through a cycle in which I feel the need for colour -to fill up my appetite- and other times I need a colour detox. After a season of monochrome, creating surfaces in the spectrum of black to white, I hunger for colour again; sparking a new series of multi-toned, coloured and often more playful ceramic work.
Colour has the ability to change our mood. I consider that when creating a body of work, which refuels the making process.
As the cycle continues, I find -before long- I want the sophistication and elegant simplicity of monochrome, which brings harmony; concentrating on form and the subtleties of surface treatment. The push and pull of this elegant sophistication versus freeing playfulness is the juxtaposition in which my work currently unfolds.
After practice and reflection, I realise the only constant, like a hunger, is the desire to create.