INTERVIEW WITH MARIE SERREAU
Would you first tell us about your ceramic life? When and how did you start? Did you take classes, workshops, trips, etc? What inspired you and still inspires you?
Even when I was little, I had already established that clay would be my medium: as far as I can remember, I've always been making little figurines, flowers and other poetic sculptures from clay. I finished my formation as a potter in 2002 in Mulhouse, Alsace. I learned all the basics, learned not only to be technically proficient but also humanly better. I learned about the ceramic communities, about this alternative life clay offered, almost parallel to everyday life, discovered amazing artists and amazing ways to create just from a lump of dirt. To keep learning and exploring further, I travelled for a few months after school in France, Quebec, Nigeria, Burkina and Mali. The people I've met in these places have greatly influenced my work and my implication in the ceramic community. Solidarity, humility, liberty and authenticity are fundamental values for me and my work.
I set up my first studio in 2005 in Montreal. Not long after, I left for Burgundy (France) to open my second studio which I ran for 6 years. I lived many rich moments there, created a lot, engaged a lot, met many ceramicists and made many new friends. These experiences and meetings have shaped me both as a woman and an artist (Daniel de Montmollin, Sylvie Didier, François Fresnais, Hervé Rousseau, Anne Marie Daman Kelecom, sarah Clotuche, Emmanuel Pecatte, Jérome Galvin, Marko Savard, Daphné Corregan, Stephanie Raymond).
Later, I came back to Québec and arrived primed for work, filled with these positive experiences. Since 2012, I rebuilt my connections, discovered local clays et pursued my studio work. I have been working with earthenware since my establishment in Quebec and I like this clay. I am proud to know the clay I use comes from Gaspésie: this is in line with my ecological ideas. Earthenware potters fascinate me. Their knowledge is ancestral and very acute at the same time.
Other than clay artists, I like artists who draw, paint or sculpt, artists working with colours and textures to tell stories (Mirò, Calder, Picasso, Miquel Barcelo, Benoit Averly, Milan Peters, les Fresnais, etc..).
When did you start creating teaware?
Since I've been working with clay professionally, I've been making teaware. I've always been passionate about the esthetical and technical aspects of tea-related objects. Teapots, for sure, but also tea bowls which is so precious an object, something you old in the cusp of your hands, something that has to answer the shape of your finger or palms, that has to bring warmth and comfort. I have been drinking tea since childhood but only discovered its ritual once I was an adult.
What do you like most about your work?
I like different parts of the process for different reasons. Throwing at the wheel and hand-building for example satisfy my desire for technical challenges, for reaching a certain balance in forms. When decorating, I'm like floating in zero gravity: I follow the brush wherever it goes, the movement like a dance. I don't think much, I paint and I carve simply to create, to refine the surfaces of my pots. I feel a lot of freedom in my work.
How do you like to work with ceramics? Has it always been like that?
I like working in a quiet environment. I need my bubble and I'm happier alone in my studio. This way, I can live my emotions like I want to when working. I work in front of my garden in the city.
I like to listen to music while working. Sometimes audiobooks also, or the radio. Some other times, I just let silence take over.
It's pretty much always been like that. I prefer choosing who comes in and when so I can have as much solitary time as I need.
What do you look to achieve in your work?
I don't know if I'm looking to achieve something specific in my work. I mostly wish to feel that I'm honest, fair, authentic and spontaneous. I'm just working, here and now, without thinking much.
On a more technical side, I like to reproduce certain shapes that I have in my head or that I see somewhere. But I don't really feel pressure to do so. Each piece is unique and I hope it will find some kind soul to whom it will speak.
I like making pots that present a visual balance between form and decoration. I'd like to eventually throw big pieces or build them with coils to have larger canvases for surface decoration. One day, probably.
Why ceramics? Why not another material or medium?
Clay was my first love and since I've gotten back to it at 20, I never really questioned it. I like to explore other materials or means of expression like sculpture, jewelry, glass, drawing... but I always come back to clay.
How are you different from other artists or artisans in your line of work?
Nothing really. I'm just like the others searching to explore everything little by little. I look to be myself, to respect myself in who I am and what I do. I believe clay helps me keep some authenticity about all this. I don't really do what's expected. I do what I want and whoever likes it, likes it.
What are your inspirations?
Nature is very inspiring: seeds, herbs, plants, shapes, curves... I like to let my drawings go wherever. Music and words are always present through all this. Humans also, in their good sides...
Marie Serreau's collection is now archived.