Brutal. went to meet the ceramist Léa Munsch in her workshop in Lorraine. Let's discover his universe through an interview.
What is your path to get to ceramics?
It all started at the Poterie&cie workshop in Paris. Sandrine Chriqui introduced me to lathe. I went there once a week after work. It became a moment of calm, an intimate and meditative moment during which I found myself with the material, the trick and the patience of learning gestures. I used the analogy of the monk to describe the attitude of learning the trick, patience, calmness of mind, perseverance, humility. From time to time during my weekends or vacations, I followed shooting courses in different workshops in France and abroad (ATC, Tortus,...). Quite quickly, I felt that there was something going on with the earth, something very instinctive, in the guts, I called it "the little alien from the earth" and it called me louder and louder ! I started on the lathe then when I stopped my previous professional activity to dedicate myself to clay, I realized that I wanted to model and sculpt. I had the basic techniques but I learned a lot by doing, following my instincts and giving myself the freedom to try to evolve.
Do you remember your first play?
There were first parts in modeling and turning. I have some on my desk. A cup made on a plate, enamelled in white speckled black with a toothbrush with a pink/purple gradient on the lip. All in live at the first lesson! A container made of white enamel coil with blue splashes. On the lathe, it must have been a cylinder as that's the shape you learn first, but I'm not so sure anymore.
How would you define your job?
Raw earth and instinct. A universe to explore the possibilities of the earth. Always with curiosity and always evolving, like the possible answers to this question over time. I am interested in raw earth, its colors, textures and emotional reach. That in front of a sculpture, we feel before forcing ourselves to think what it is.
What is your creative and manufacturing process?
It is a continuous cycle, between ideation, drawings, realization. An idea can come from a walk in the forest, from an image, from a word, from an architecture, from a texture or a material, from a story,...I often draw various ideas for pieces in my notebook and when the time comes, I go through it and decide which piece I want to make will be. My drawings are simple, they represent the idea of the shape of the room. It is when I sculpt that the piece takes on its identity. By talking to the earth, seeing how it reacts, I can adjust and evolve the idea of this form. I like this space of freedom, being in a process rather than trying to achieve a pre-defined goal.
What is your favorite technique?
Work the plate wildly.
Your favorite moment in the process?
Feeling that the process is a permanent movement present in all areas of my life, broader than “doing it” in the studio. To be the only one to know and model the parts of the process invisible from the outside and which materialize in the workshop.
What is your favorite material? What do you like about him?
Chamotted sandstone for the raw aspect and its rendering of textures. I can work it wild and it stands well for the scale of my current pieces which are up to 60cm tall.
What inspires you outside of ceramics?
Nature at large and the beauty it creates. The colors, the shapes, the materials, the intelligence of his creations. The rocks and the geological times that we cannot really measure as humans. I am also starting to take an interest in star observation. Architecture, archaeology, prehistory, ancient civilizations and their legends, the evolution of man's relationship with nature and the link between life, art and nature. The work of ancient and contemporary artists. Books, I love books. Meetings, passionate people in search of inner balance and with the world.
Can you tell us about one or more books on ceramics or something else?
Good sequence. Current books.Thematic works.A book on land art, one on Indian legends.Overlay: Contemporary Art and the Art of Prehistory by Lucy R. Lippard. An important reading which continues both to shake me and to put into words the connections that I felt intuitively, at the level of forms, images, symbols, concepts, art, between pre-historic times and contemporary society. Literature Joseph Kessel - he makes me travel to remote lands, meet cultures and characters in his style of adventurer/reporter sensitive to the human world. Rilke - Letters to a Young Poet. I come back to it from time to time. Universal words about self-knowledge, the need to create, life and the importance of our choices. I really love the fact that important books come into my life from important people.
What are your last significant trips or your travel desires?
In the summer of 2019, I was on an island off Gothenburg in Sweden. An oasis of calm, surrounded by water, without cars. A stay spent resting, walking, reading, cooking. The last big "trip" to date is my move to the countryside in 2018. Everything was to be discovered and imagined in this new living environment and in my new studio. It was a big change and the journey continues.