Alison Lousada creates raw and elegant stoneware vessels, inspired by African and Japanese ceramics and Icelandic landscapes. Following a successful 15 year career designing printed textiles for Stella McCartney and Clements Ribeiro, her passion for ceramics grew from ‘anti fashion therapy’ to a full time profession under the guiding eye of Nicola Tassie. In 2016 Alison set up her ceramics studio to develop her practice of coarse textured stoneware vessels further.
Alison Lousada creates raw and elegant stoneware vessels, inspired by African and Japanese ceramics and Icelandic landscapes. Following a successful 15 year career designing printed textiles for Stella McCartney and Clements Ribeiro, her passion for ceramics grew from ‘anti fashion therapy’ to a full time profession under the guiding eye of Nicola Tassie. In 2016 Alison set up her ceramics studio to develop her practice of coarse textured stoneware vessels furthe
Each unique vessel goes through multiple firings to build up layers that react in the kiln, every raw edge, brush mark, splash and imperfection is left to show the mark of the maker. Alison often revisits older pieces to add new layers, using different materials to change their appearance. She likens this layering process to the way a painter might paint over a canvas to create new work.
1. What motivates you to make?
The contact between the material and my hands and being in my quiet studio, listening to a book, podcast or music. The process of building a rough form out of heavily grogged clay and then filing it back with a surform to reveal a more uniform refined shape. The expectation, satisfaction or failure when you open the kiln door to see how the glazes have reacted, cracked or blistered. Even though I know roughly what to expect, I still get unexpected, serendipitous surprises. It’s my happy place.
2. What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?
My practice entails re-firing and adding layers of texture, where the form becomes akin to a painted canvas. I enjoy juxtapositions; rough and smooth, matt and shine. I love raw, unglazed clay with sharp edges, scratched, cracked and scored. All my pieces have a belly, suggesting domesticity and practicality, whilst the cracked finishes have a fragility to them which confuses this usability. Travel has been a huge influence on my work. Icelandic landscapes, volcanic rock and cracked surfaces; Japanese ceramics and Wabi-Sabi (the philosophy of accepting imperfection). I’m also inspired by 1970’s German pottery and African milk pots, as well as other domestic vessels with bellied forms.
3. What is your unique approach to your craft and how have you honed your skills?
Experimentation has been crucial and I tend to work in monochromatic and natural tones, with areas of pastel and gold lustre highlights. It wasn’t until I had my own studio that I could develop my practice and hone my skills.
The most important development in my work was learning to be unafraid of failure, to try adding different objects, slips, glazes and seeing how they react. This is the element of my work that I most enjoy. I often add new layers to old pieces, using different materials to change their appearance – I suppose it’s similar to the way a painter paints over a canvas to make new work.
4. What is your defining or proudest moment as a maker so far?
Obviously other than being represented by The New Craftsmen, I was recently part of an exhibition at Gallery 46 in Whitechapel with the painter Sara Berman. The show sprang from a conversation around women and domesticity, entitled ‘scene [unscene]’. I enjoyed the pairing of my work with Sara’s, and looking at it through a new lens.
5. What is your dream project?
I often think about the conversations between the different vessels that I make, and feel that the negative space between them is as important as the single piece itself. So my dream project would be a commission for a large group of vessels where I can consider how the pieces interact with each other. I would also love to collaborate with a basket maker to make large scale pieces where there is a dialogue between the two practices.
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