In our first instalment of In the Making, we visit Aude Van Ryn to learn the story behind her playful sculptures and her journey from illustrator to ceramicist.\n
At the bottom of a shared garden, Aude Van Ryn’s studio sits nestled among a small cluster of creative studios, right next door to the shed that was her first studio. Her workplace is filled with curious objects, tools, books and an endless number of pots labelled with handwritten strips of masking tape. Her space is home to many experiments, of trial and error and of play.\n \n
How do you get started with making a collection?
Often, the way I start is by making lots and lots of slabs. I use a slab roller to roll them, then build up various parts using different tools. I make imprints into the clay, reliefs and all sorts of textures.\n
Before you start building a piece or a collection, do you have a plan in mind?\n
I do lots of drawings in my sketchbook, sometimes just a scribble can lead to an idea, Then I select a drawing and start building. Of course, the final piece does not always turn out like my drawings, as they become 3D. It is often a question of composing with different volumes and shapes. Once I’ve cut up my slab, I have lots of leftovers in different shapes that usually lead to more ideas.\n \n
Your pieces gather together with both the harmony and randomness of people in a crowd, can you tell me more about the recurring theme of the human figure within your work?
They do feel like a crowd, it comes from my background as an illustrator. Drawing people is something I have been doing for a long long time, so I always have the characteristics of people and how they look in mind. They are not all necessarily people but I suppose they could be. When they are together they do have a dialogue between them and each of these small things have a little presence in a home.\n \n
When did you change paths from illustration to ceramics, and how have you found it?
I first took a ceramics class around 2006 and enjoyed it so much, I eventually found my own space to work in. When I began, I didn’t know how technically complex it was - things were breaking and bubbling up and I didn’t know why - so I took a course while still working as an illustrator. Then I thought I only have one life, so why not try to make this work. Every time I start a new ceramic piece, it’s like going back to a blank white page and having to re-imagine everything, which I really love.\n \n
Can you tell me about the colour story in this collection?
In this instance, I paired down quite a lot. I selected a honey colour and a brick red, paired with grey, black and white. Working with glazes helps to limit the choice. It’s also nice to play with the contrast between shiny and matt surfaces by having a mix of glazed and unglazed areas.\n
Do you work out colours in your sketchbook too?\n
No I don’t. After the first firing, I look at them and decide what I am going to do. Sometimes I have a broad idea and other times I will have no idea. I look through all of my examples of glazes and mix up lots of ingredients for tests, then I think about how and where I can use a colour. Glaze is infinite and super interesting, I love the chemistry of it. One particular glaze given to me by a friend had been red for her in the past but when I tried it, it came out as a beautiful grey.\n \n
Where do you find your ideas come from?
I often rummage through my collection of books, from photography to architecture and graphic design. I come from a family of architects and many of my references come from my life as an illustrator. When I go to exhibitions, I always make drawings. In the old days I had a shoebox filled with lots of postcards, now I have Instagram images that I enjoy - and they take up much less space!\n
When I finish a collection of work, I need to have a few days to refuel and do some research. It is so important to allow myself that headspace and to have enough time to think. I think while I eat breakfast, when I go to bed at night and in various snippets throughout the day in-between. It is in these moments that I’m able to let my mind wander… then I get ready to start again.\n
Explore Aude Van Ryn’s lively new collection of ceramics below.\n