Brutal. went to meet the ceramist Hortense Montarnal in her studio a few kilometers north of Lyon. Since then, Hortense has moved a few meters away to a slightly larger studio. Let's discover his universe through an interview.
What is your background and your training to get to ceramics?
After a professional life in HR punctuated by burnout, I made the decision to stop working in this field, which completely called into question my professional future. A reflection begins; I explore the possibilities that are available to me and at the same time I decide to have fun and do things that I had never had time to do. I then enrolled in a pottery course and the second year, I put into perspective my desire to be on my own with a professional project in ceramics. I enroll in penal training for one year then at the end I work in a corner of my house in a very small space... The following year I set up my workshop in a house that we have built on our land. . Three years later, having become too small, I moved into a larger workshop adapted to my production.
Are you self-taught or did you learn from someone else?
I learned to shoot during my training. I have never done internships with more experienced people, I started with my small base and learned a lot through the difficulties that very quickly arrived, by making mistakes. I learned a lot from my failures and I still encounter a lot of difficulties, which constantly makes me understand new things. For 2 years, I have been working with enamel, which I have learned on my own empirically with books and lots of trials.
Do you remember your first play?
I remember the first time I shot, this euphoria that took me because I immediately found it magical. This unique sensation when the earth rises. And reconnect with the sensations, repeat the gestures until the hands do it alone and the head no longer controls the movements. I kept the pieces just to remember the sensations and not forget them. I was more the type not to keep the pieces, to do to learn.
Authentic, I look for the pieces to be above all practical and to fit into everyone's interior, simply. That the enamels match the shapes. A search also for both beauty and practicality for enamel while taking into account the constraints of utility: that it goes in the dishwasher, that it is "food safe", that there is no cutlery marks, which adds a binding element. It's a real challenge to offer a variety of colors with this constraint...
It took me a lot of time to find land that corresponded to the shapes I wanted to develop. I've put together a short line that matches the essentials. I don't see in the abstract, I need to see my finished piece. I draw very briefly to see the proportions but I only see the concrete, hence the many attempts.Then, when I shoot a series, as the gestures are mechanical, it allows me to think about new things.I always make at the beginning or at the end of a series of prototypes of new parts in a spontaneous way to see where that leads me.If it's a request from a chef, he provides me with his need, the shape he wants and I make several prototypes with variations to also see if the model is tenable in production. While maintaining my own style.
I shoot 100% of my production. And what I prefer are the sensations of turning the hands on the earth, of seeing the object come out of a ball of earth.And the opening of an enamel oven which can be a great joy or a great disappointment.
What is your favorite material? What do you like about him?
I work in sandstone. For its behavior, its color which corresponds to this search for authenticity, its reaction with the enamels. I add other lands to give it a different rhythm and give it my identity.
What inspires you apart from ceramics?
I look around a lot and I see beauty in any small detail: nature, landscapes, the colors of the things around us.
Can you tell us about one or more books on ceramics or something else?
Michelle and Jacques Serre's monograph, "2 Potiers" by Thomas Leporrier. I met Thomas during the writing of this beautiful monograph on the work of this couple of Clermont potters, I am lucky to own several pieces by these artists who fascinate me in their aesthetics and the perfection of the enamels.
What are your last significant trips or your travel desires?
Mauritius, a real need for rest at this time. I came back refreshed as ever? Next destination: Japan!