Helga Ritsch Ceramics: Vessels as a mirror of soul

Helga Ritsch is a Swiss ceramist who began her work as an independent ceramic artist in 1998. The main focus of her work, as she says, is ‘to find a suitable vessel for the relationship between outside and inside. A topic of her life’.

One of the singularities of his work is the use of a small thread on her vessels, a detail that Ronnie Watt, art historian, Canada, wrote (s. writings): (…) The red thread is a reference to the German expression ‚der rote Faden des Erzählens‘ which can be translated as ‚following your destiny‘. With this leitmotiv, explains Ritsch, she ‚brings things together‘ and that ‚my works are different, but the red thread holds them together‘. At the same time it ’stitches‘ her works to her personal life experiences and philosophy. As a powerful albeit fragile decorative element, the thread is a visual and intellectual accent for work but is simultaneously integral to that form because it is anchored in it. It is also a statement that the work was hand-crafted.

Helga’s relationship between outside and inside:

Helga Ritsch: There is an outside of a vessel and an inside and I am not interested in making vessels according to the potter rules. Of course, I know them all because I made a five-year education with a potter master – but at the end, I am looking for something different, even inside or outside. I make vessels that I need and they are maybe like mirrors of my soul and mood swings – my personality.

I was also educated as an architect and philosopher and that is what I remain as a ceramist: I build vessels that are meant to inspire reflection and touch. Somehow at least.

About Trends and the future of Ceramics.

Helga Ritsch: Trends don’t really affect my work. They come and go and actually I find that boring. It is somewhat irritating to see how many – especially in ceramics – do more or less the same thing. Why should that irritate me?

I am not a clairvoyant and of course, I don’t know how this ceramic hype goes on. I have been working with ceramics for 25 years and at the moment I think that every person wants to make a vessel (or other crafty things). That is funny, isn’t it? On the one hand this might be good, on the other hand it is a bit boring because many beginners simply copy a wide and wild range of shapes (that is ok in a way, you have to learn like this), but: They really put their first (!) works as a beginner on the net and sell them via online shop. Mixed with personal ‚storytelling’, a few buzzwords like ‘sustainable’ or ‚local’ and some styled photos – eh voila. That’s unimaginative and I am not sure whether that promotes awareness of quality and a deep understanding of the craft. Where is the time to develop their own language? Probably this ceramic hype will disappear again like the felt hype 20 years ago? We will see.

You might think it’s all about marketing and less about the thing itself. At the moment craftsmanship is a term of longing and with ceramics, it can be filled relatively easily: The material is cheap and evokes childhood memories. And you can quickly make a coffee mug or several and invent a great name for the ‚collection’. That’s enough for many. Is it good for your understanding of ceramic creation? I am not sure.

Interview with Helga Ritsch.

Photography:©Gion A. Isenring.

Trends: Balanced Self.