There are certain classical objects that contain a kind of mystique, or as Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) would say, an ‘aura’ that manifests itself in the original object. Amphorae, an ancient vase used as a storage jar, emanates an intrinsic and captivating beauty through its simple form and materiality and became a symbol of Greek pottery and its distinctive shapes.
Having always been drawn to ancient practices and techniques, Lisa Geue creates amphorae-shaped vessels with a focus on experimental glazing. Her body of work portrays a unique aesthetical language and composition that is perhaps supported by her background in photography and film.
In Amphor Blanc, 2022, Lisa Geue removes the traditional handles from the vessels and concentrates her work on the body itself, where white glazes with golden and bronze flashings emerge from the use of Shino glazes, Strontium, and Tin Oxide. Her pieces serve as a blank canvas to explore natural processes such as mineralization and decomposition in ceramics.
Lisa Geue: The Amphorae is the embodiment of ceramics and its prehistoric heritage across Eurasia, from the Caucasus to China. Because of that, to me, it’s a symbol of human crafts(wo)manship. Since my work revolves around the ‘Vessel’ and its archetypal symbolism, I focus on different shapes and forms with a prehistoric origin in every new series. Amphor Blanc was inspired by Mediterranean Pottery and when thinking of ceramics from the Mediterranean Sea, your mind will cross paths with the Amphorae one way or another.
Lisa Geue: A typical attribute of amphorae was the handles that were placed symmetrically, connecting the rim with the shoulder. Handles are usually made for practical reasons. The container has to be transportable and, as the name suggests, easy to handle. By creating vessels without these prominent features, I am concentrating on the body itself, leaving room to focus on a highly textured surface.
My work isn’t practical. My objects vary from functional, semi-functional, and non-functional to sculptural. The main reason for that is my focus on simple, traditional, and ancient shapes, yet highly textured glazes. Texture appeals to the somatosensory system, but also the visual sense. The eye will wander and observe as much as the hand will when being in contact with an unexpected glaze that offers levels and a variety of colors. Even a light texture can become an aesthetical element that can create another level of perception.
Lisa Geue: Shino glazes are an integral part of my practice as they offer a various range of applications and aesthetics, and depending on the firing method, they will create a unique surface. For my glazes, I use minerals, carbonates, oxides, organic material such as wood ash, shells (gifted), sand, and salt. For this series, I used Shino glazes, a bit of tin oxide, and strontium.
Lisa Geue: Using rainwater is a reasonable choice. The crafts have become more popular in the last years, at this very moment probably even more than arts. As creating is part of human existence, I’m happy to see people finding joy in that. But it also means a higher industrial production rate of materials and more consumption of natural resources. I am currently fortunate enough to use a water tank as a water reservoir, but I also only order the materials and amount that I need, trying to avoid producing too much wastage as well.
Words by Rita Trindade and Lisa Geue | Photography/video Lisa Geue