Arjan Van Dal

Following a successful career working for the Dutch Commission to UNESCO, Arjan Van Dal began his “second career” in ceramics in 2015 having studied in his spare time under the watchful eye of Raymundus van Kessel. He was taken on as an assistant to Hitomi Hosono before being selected for the Crafts Council Hothouse Programme in 2016. Arjan has since exhibited his work across the globe, notably at the International China Craft Week in Hangzhou, and he was also commissioned to create an entire dinner range for Gazelle Mayfair.

Ceramicist

Arjan Van Dal

London

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THE PROCESS

Arjan uses porcelain when creating his pieces, for it’s plasticity, smoothness and because white porcelain lends itself well to pigmentation – the smoother the surface, the more intense the colour perception. During the making process the piece is sanded and polished to create a smooth and tactile surface. The porcelain is often stained by wedging pigments into the clay body to make it a solid colour. A crucial part of Arjan's making process is the refinement of shapes, and he does this by trimming and turning the pieces while in their leatherhard state.

  

Q&A

1. What motivates you to make?

Humans in essence are creators. Making by hand is deeply ingrained in our DNA. It’s not without reason that I changed my career, having worked within the UNESCO organisation before, to pursue a career in the craft industry. I missed making, I missed using my hands. While I was a young student I was introduced to ceramics at the pottery of Raymundus van Kessel, a Cistercian monk. His studio was in the basement of a monastery, a converted castel, close to where I used to live. For years I spent my Saturdays there as an antidote to my engineering Masters. Creating instead of physics and maths.

What currently motivates me is to make work that combines form and function, and shows the craftsmanship that goes into making it. I aim to create things that can stand the test of time. I thereby challenge myself to reuse and reclaim as much material as possible. Not just for economical reasons, the stains are expensive ingredients to use, but also to lower the footprint of my workshop.

2. What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?

My inspirations are manifold, but to name a few, the Sir Percival David Collection in British Museum houses the most amazing collection of Chinese Imperial Court Porcelain. The colours, the forms, the attention to detail, the craftsmanship in each piece, is what inspires me. A visit every so often is a must to refresh my inspiration.

I love the clarity of Modernism together with the playfulness of post-Modernism. Italian designers such as Ettore Sottsass, with his approach to form and colour and Enzo Mari, with his very democratic approach to making, are a clear influence. Dutch Design often has an element of humour in it, though grounded in a rational approach to materiality.

Geert Lap, a Dutch ceramicist whose work recently has regained attention, has been a major influence. His focus on form and colour in his wheel thrown pieces is exquisite. His work looks so simple and yet so strong.

The marshland of my youth, comparable to the Cambridge Fens, still resonates through in my work. That landscape is characterised by strong lines (a flat horizon of 360 degrees), clarity and nothing to hide. This is similar in my work. It is paired back to just the minimal in approach. Every little flaw therefore would show. It demands a level of control that also reflects my dedication to craftsmanship.

3. What is your unique approach to your craft, and how have you honed your skills?

In my work I mainly focus on throwing on the wheel. I use porcelain, a material that by nature is white, as my canvas to colour. I add pigments and stains to the material before I start working with it.

A crucial part of my making process is the refinement of shapes, by trimming and turning them while they are in their leatherhard state. Porcelain as a material is notoriously difficult to work with, but lends itself very well to creating details such as stark edges. I play with different angles in a piece in order to let the light strike over its surface and create different shades of a colour. Often I create very smooth surfaces, the smoother the surface the more intense the colour perception.

Skills develop over time with dedication. Especially as a thrower of functional-ware it is important to repeat and repeat, and then repeat again. It allows you to further refine the details of a form and also gives a deeper understanding of how to create those specific shapes. How to use certain grips while making. Each form requires a different sequence of positioning of the hands, of refining the form.

4. What is your defining or proudest moment as a maker so far?

In 2017 I was invited to take part in the International China Craft Week in Hangzhou. As a potter working solely in porcelain, being invited to show in the country of the birthplace of porcelain, where craftsmanship is at a high level, felt like a recognition.

I am also proud I was selected by the Crafts Council for their Hothouse Programme. To take a u-turn in your career path is not just exciting, but can also be challenging. This highly selective business development programme has been very helpful to further establish my making practice and introduced me to the outstanding world of craft and design in the United Kingdom.

5. What is your dream project?

Dreams sometimes come more quickly into being than one could imagine. My actual dream project just landed via The New Craftsmen. I’m really looking forward to being part of the residency at Holkham Hall, and making site specific art work.

 

ALL PRODUCTS

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Products 1-24 of 26 found

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  1. Dark Green Dodko Vase I
    Arjan Van Dal
    £300
  2. Light Green Dodko Vase I
    Arjan Van Dal
    £340
  3. Dove Blue Long Necked Bottle I
    Out of stock
    Arjan Van Dal
    £330
    Out of stock
  4. Mid Green Shouldered Vase I
    Arjan Van Dal
    £330
  5. Dove Blue Orb Flask I
    Out of stock
    Arjan Van Dal
    £230
    Out of stock
  6. Klein Blue Dokdo Vase I
    Arjan Van Dal
    £300
  7. Purple Curved Neck Bottle I
    Out of stock
    Arjan Van Dal
    £250
    Out of stock
  8. Mid Orange Double Orb Bottle II
    Out of stock
    Arjan Van Dal
    £200
    Out of stock
  9. Orange Straight Necked Jar I
    Out of stock
    Arjan Van Dal
    £250
    Out of stock
  10. Grogged Serving Bowl (Small)
    Grogged Serving Bowl (Small)
  11. Grogged Jug
    Grogged Jug
    Arjan Van Dal
    £115
  12. Pale Samphire Serving Bowl (Small) by Arjan Van Dal
    Pale Samphire Serving Bowl (Small)
  13. Pale Samphire Handled Jug (Large) by Arjan Van Dal
    Pale Samphire Handled Jug (Large)
  14. Pale Grey Serving Bowl (Small) by Arjan Van Dal
    Pale Grey Serving Bowl (Small)
  15. Pale Grey Handled Jug (Large)  by Arjan Van Dal
    Pale Grey Handled Jug (Large)
  16. Pale Grey Serving Bowl (Large)
    Pale Grey Serving Bowl (Large)
  17. Grogged Serving Bowl (Large)
    Grogged Serving Bowl (Large)
    Arjan Van Dal
    £125
  18. Pale Samphire Serving Bowl (Large) by Arjan Van Dal
    Pale Samphire Serving Bowl (Large)
  19. Undulating Espresso Cup & Saucer Set
  20. Undulating High Bowls and Starter Plates
  21. Undulating Pasta Bowls and Starter Plates
  22. Undulating Cup & Saucer Set by Arjan Van Dal
    Undulating Cup & Saucer Set
    Arjan Van Dal
    £300
  23. Large Handled Jug (Pale Grey) by Arjan Van Dal
    Undulating 12 Piece Dining Set
  24. Undulating 20 Piece Dining Set by Arjan Van Dal
    Undulating 20 Piece Dining Set
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Products 1-24 of 26 found

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