Betty Woodman described ceramics as the perfect creative endeavor, a fusion of the creative and the practical.
We speak to Ana Kerin, founder of ceramic studio KANA LONDON about her practice and inspirations.
Ana Kerin was looking for a balance when she decided to create her line of functional ceramics. It wasn’t necessarily a stretch – the classically trained Kerin already had a sculpture practice but she wanted to offset the seriousness of her fine art pieces with something lighter.
“I see and think with my hands, through the tactile experience,” she says. “It helps me think, and to process emotions. Making something functional was a way to have a break from the more conceptual work, and, at the same time, a beautiful challenge.”
Ceramicists operate in an unusual space in the art world, their pieces at once revered on pedestals and employed in mundane, daily tasks. A bowl can be a treasured heirloom on a shelf one minute, before being grabbed and stuffed full of spaghetti the next. Kerin says, “I love the blurred line between the untouchable art in a public gallery and its personal life in a private place, as it becomes an integral part of the rituals and tradition of food preparation and eating.”
KANA’s creations are sensual and unusual – terracotta stoneware in all shapes and sizes, glazed in rich colours, some daubed with patterns, some with obscenities, some with 22-carat gold. It’s hard to categorise the aesthetic – “Maybe it’s like an Italian villa?” says Kerin. “There’s the simplicity, like that of terrazzo and marble floors, offset by complexity, like painted frescos on the ceiling. It’s a language that works because it’s so related to the physical. It’s simple but complex. It’s not loud, it slips under your skin slowly.”
Collaborations are a new focus for Kerin, working with artist Alexa Coe to create a line of plates and bowls joyously scrawled with nude bodies.
“I love working with other artists for the sense of freedom. I have to think about where our work overlaps, and where it parts, and where we can find a new language together. I have a very strong personal practice where I don’t compromise, but collaborations are where my creative flow gets inspired.”