08 Apr Making Manifest: Ceri Muller’s Ceramic Forms Express Her Inner World
Oh, how refreshing it is to scroll through ceramic artist Ceri Muller’s Instagram feed – a beautiful display of her intriguing, aesthetically pleasing creations. A digital canvas showcasing ceramic pieces created using soft, earthy tones, and a range of shapes; each piece uniquely sculpted. As a ceramics appreciator myself, I was eager to reach out to Muller to find out more about her creative journey, introduction to clay as a medium, and creating art for her personal well-being.
What led you to working within this medium? Is this something you’ve had interest in and love from a young age?
I have always loved making things and this led me to study fine art. It has been a long journey since completing my master’s degree to come back to a place of creating art again. Looking for a creative outlet I started making ceramics about two years ago. Every evening after work I would come home and play around with clay and now I can’t stop. I enjoy working with my hands. I find it incredibly meditative and it calms my mind.
What’s the first piece you sculpted and what was that experience like?
After a long break from artmaking after my master’s, when I first wanted to get going with ceramics, I was struggling to make anything, blocked by some sort of performance anxiety. My husband told me to start by making the ugliest object I could imagine. I did that and carried on doing it and those weird little things morphed into the textural vessels and heads that I grew to really love.
How would you describe your style of work and how has it developed over the years?
Emotional, expressive, fragile. Simultaneously playful and somber. I think that since studying the major change in my work is that as an artist I’m not really interested in ‘conceptual’ art in the academic sense. I’m more interested in exploring and expressing my internal terrain and finding a bit of comfort through my practice, whatever meaning (or not) emerges from the forms is secondary.
What is the central theme that is present throughout your work?
I haven’t really thought about themes over the last years. I am not sure if these are even visible in my work but this is what I see: My lived experience. The search for comfort. My relationship with my body. This may sound really selfish but I make art for myself, because I want to feel better emotionally, because I want to keep my hands busy, because I too am fascinated by what comes out.
Artists and creators draw inspiration from different angles and places. As an artist yourself, where do you draw inspiration from?
My body, my restless mind. Memories of the past, anxieties for the future. Basically just being a human and living in this world. I know how privileged I am on all levels but life can feel so hard and fraught. I feel like an imposter in my own body and in the world most of the time. This feeling is what drives me to create ceramics and the pieces that I make inevitably feel both really familiar yet completely alien at the same time. Manifesting my internal state into these physical objects is really comforting to me.
Most (if not all) of your pieces are quite textured and have a beautiful wave-like pattern. Tell us about the importance of texture within your work and experimenting with patterns.
I really enjoy texture and spend a lot of time exploring the textural possibilities of clay. The crinkles came about while playing around and experimenting with different textures and ways of building. I particularly enjoyed the look and process of the crinkles I so kept on doing it. I love fluid, organic shapes and I enjoy working with the clay to create a wide range of oozing vessels. I see each piece kind of like a human body with a unique shape, size and colour, riddled with blemishes and imperfections. They come together to create a motley crew of outcasts. It makes my heart warm.
While scrolling through your work, I was intrigued by the different elements present in your creations; particularly the faces you carve into your sculptures. Can you tell us a bit about this?
Sometimes they are based on characters I see roaming around in my neighbourhood and other times I sketch out a face or feeling I have in mind. But they always end up doing their own thing when I sculpt them. There is inevitably an element of tragedy that emerges. They are so sweet and so sad at the same time. I always feel a bit sorry for them and get super attached to them. It’s not easy for me to let them go to new homes.
Another element within your work that intrigued me is your use of colour – soft, earthly tones. How did you go about choosing your colour palette and how does it fall in line with the theme of your work?
I really love natural textures and earthy colours so I generally leave the clay raw and unglazed. I’m definitely interested in experimenting with different glazes in the future but for now I am really enjoying exploring all the beautiful clays that are available.
If you haven’t already done so, do you wish to experiment with materials other than clay? If so, which materials?
At the moment I still feel like I have so much to learn with ceramics so I’m not ready to move on to another medium just yet. I do however really love wood and would love to play around with it one day.
From your work, I’ve picked out a couple of personal favorites (narrowing it down was difficult); such as the High Tea Jug, Power Ears and the hip-shaped sculpture. What are some of your favourite pieces you’ve created?
Oooh it’s difficult, I have such a soft spot for all of them! But if I had to pick I would say the top four would be: Yes (the ultimate alien vessel), Group Therapy, Deep Dive, Juicy and Curvy Cream.
Follow @cerimuller_studio on Instagram.