Ann Van Hoey: Illogically Balanced
We are honoured to share an exhibition of works by acclaimed Belgian ceramicist Ann Van Hoey, who has created an exquisite collection of hand-built vessels, boasting sleek, expressive forms in a harmonious blend of quiet tones and rich touches of colour.
Most recently awarded the rank of Commander in the Order of the Crown by Belgium’s King Philippe for her achievements as a ceramic artist, Ann has had her work exhibited in countless exhibitions world-wide and has had work selected for many international competitions and awards.
This thoughtful collection celebrates the delicate qualities and boundless quirks and quiddities of Van Hoey’s work. From her Mechelen, Belgium, studio Ann has built a collection boasting poetic forms crafted in stoneware, earthenware and porcelain. Finished in a variety of techniques including engobe slips, contrasting interiors and the application of surface texture, the surfaces allow the unique forms and their many faces to capture light and shadow with a softness that embraces crisp edges and bold silhouettes.
The finished pieces perfectly balance free flowing, poetic forms and a precise, clean finish. Do you have an exact idea of the finished form before you begin, or does the piece take shape in an organic way?
"The cutting is an organic process. So, I have my base form that I make and I started with two forms for this collection. For the little whites I start with a half bowl, like a hemisphere and the other pieces is more like a vase form before I start cutting, those are my newer pieces. I make that form, that shape, then start cutting which is really more and more organic. At the beginning a few years ago I did this part in very geometric strict way but I have left that behind me and certainly for this exhibition."
The addition of surface texture is relatively new to your work. What drew you to explore texture? How is it applied?
"That is new the texture, I like it very much. The half bowl I made in a blast form, the scratches I made in the plaster mould, I put the mould on the wheel then make the scratches.
The other texture on 2 pieces (1 yellow and 1 white) is new and computer designed, and I like it so much because in one way it is very geometric but in another way it makes me think about lace or something more romantic."
The collection for this exhibition is somewhat softer, more neutral that your usual vibrant tones. What was your inspiration for this collection?
"Normally I work in very bright colours, bright red, blue, green, very flashy colours but for Maud & Mabel I wanted to work in a different pallet, firstly inspired by the other work in the gallery and second by the time of year, the start of Autumn. So first I chose one brighter colour yellow, complimented by the white and darker ruby with iron oxide which I did in a red clay, I found this was a good match for the season and the gallery, and a new tone for me."
Unlike Ann’s other work the cuts of her Ruby pieces are reassembled as seams, rather than overlapped, a process which Ann says takes far more time and patience, despite the resulting easy, seamless, crease effect. “They are less poetic but more bold… the seams make them look more calm and easy even though the process is more difficult to get exact and straight."
When making a large collection such as this one, do you think of the pieces as individual or as part of a group?
"When I am making them I am picturing them alone and focus on that one piece - I like them to be put together afterwards but more naturally, about how they match together. But the making process is entirely focused on making one by one."
A few pieces in this collection are porcelain which you don’t usually work with. Is working with porcelain very different to working with stoneware and earthenware?
"Yes its very different and very difficult! The folding and cutting is a lot more free with stoneware. The elasticity of porcelain is limited, it stays wet and pliable for a much shorter time, and I find I am less free and willing to keep going with the folds or cuts, I must be more considered and succinct, whereas with stoneware I am more free."
Whilst there is a subtle sense of restraint in Ann’s porcelain works, they have a translucency that embraces the overlapping of parts, allowing subtle changes in light to highlight the wonderfully precise and technical use of this tough material and adding an ethereal and poetic element to these wonderfully controlled forms.
Ann’s technical knowledge combined with a progressively free and experimental approach to her practice results in a collection of works that playfully teeter on the line between refined structure and poetic movement, a harmony of form which seems at once both grounded and somewhat illogically balanced.
See Ann’s full collection online
or visit us in the gallery at 10 Perrin’s Court, NW3 1QS.