I first got to learn about mindfulness when picking up mediation a couple years ago, then I came to realize that I seem to have forgotten some of my natural abilities. For instance, we are used to being distracted by the TV, our phones or chatting with others while having our meal, so we stop paying attention to the presentation of the food, its smell, taste, and texture. Walking on the streets, we are often preoccupied and not being aware of the surroundings or our body gestures. Our habits have dulled down our senses and slowly made us insensitive to everything around us. The ceramic products made by ceramist Mariane Chan feature a sleek design with a rustic touch. The captivating pieces gently invite us to look at every object with mindfulness again. The sight of the thoughtful tableware arrangement has then become an integral part of the dining experience. Even when not in use, the sheer presence of the pottery is an inspiring decoration in your apartment, attributed to the subtle character of ceramics.
A：中國和日本都是世界上著名的陶瓷重鎮，想要尋找傳統製陶技術的話，當然要到這兩個地方。中國江西景德鎮在製作青花瓷等瓷器上，擁有悠久歷史，也是古時西方商人經絲綢之路來中國貿易，願意以金去換取的珍貴之物。這些歷史都為瓷器加添傳奇的色彩。在這裡，我認識到對瓷器有深入認識，同時技藝高超的工匠。 而日本的工匠則承傳wabi sabi的美學去創作，兩種不同的文化讓我思考我將要想要成為一個怎樣的陶藝師，並深刻地影響我的創作風格。
A：去年我幸運地在景德鎮遇上西班牙的陶藝家Juan Ortí，他的作品以工業的建築和形狀為基礎，強調俐落的線條和簡潔的風格，令我非常著迷。另外，我也很喜歡加拿大的陶藝家Janaki Larsen和意大利的陶藝家Bertozzi and Casoni。無論是看展覽或是隨心地看看Instagram，我也能從中獲得靈感。
Q： How did you first get interested in ceramics?
A：I first started it as a hobby 2 years ago and learned it at a weekend workshop. It is always something that I want to explore as I love food and always visit ceramics stores when I travel.
Q： How did you decide to go to Seto in Japan and Jingdezhen in China to study ceramics?
A：I wanted to find out the traditional techniques of ceramics making from Japan and China, which is both famous for it for years. Jingdezhen has a long history of making porcelain (blue and white) and being one of the treasures that the West was willing to trade for gold via Silk Road from the past is just fascinating. The craftsmen there are knowledgeable, highly skilful with precision while the Japanese believes in the philosophy of wabi sabi. Both place gives me insight for my creative journey as a ceramicist and influenced how I create my work today.
Q：Did you have any interesting experience when studying ceramics in Japan and China?
A：As mentioned previously, the Chinese and Japanese philosophy in making ceramics are quite different. The Japanese way tends to throw the piece really thin so they can saves time in trimming while the Chinese style focus trimming to make it really thin and light. Both achieve the same result but it is how they glaze the piece that makes them unique. The weekend market in JDZ is also an interesting way to meet some local artists and see their latest work.
Q：How has the experience of learning ceramics changed your life and values?
A：Making ceramics can slow down my mind and it’s almost meditative during the whole process which is a big contrast compare to my previous hectic job as a fashion stylist. Although it’s not like stress-free at all as I’m making ceramics, meeting client, packaging, marketing all by myself at the moment but I certainly enjoy every steps of it.
Q： How would you describe your ceramics style?
A：I love to travel and when I travel I visit museums and see exhibitions. I love art and design so I want to incorporate art in my ceramics so they are functional as well as decorative as an art piece. I want people to appreciate more about handmade ceramics, something they can use everyday but it should also be fun to look at.
Q：Do you have a favorite ceramicist? Where do you normally draw your inspiration from?
A：Last year I have the pleasure to meet Juan Ortí from Valencia, Spain when I stayed in Jingdezhen. His work is based on industrial buildings and forms, his work has strong clean lines and is minimal, something that I really like. Other artists like Janaki Larsen from Canada, Bertozzi and Casoni are also my favourite. Instagram and exhibitions are where I would look for inspirations.
Q： Which piece of your work are you most satisfied with?
A：Recently I made some hand-built vessels for a showroom and they can really represent who I am, what I like. By mixing visually strong colour brush strokes with dark clay body, clean lines and form it creates a modern yet a fun piece to look at, and can brighten up any space.
Q：How does your previous experience as a fashion journalist influence your ceramic art?
A：I have developed an eye for all things beautiful. It has also make me visually aware when I create, or during my design process. I would imagine how my piece will be like when it is photographed with food or other props for instance, not just focusing on the ceramic making process itself.
Q： What is the greatest challenge of being a full-time ceramicist?
A：Definitely how to sustain myself as a ceramicist. People in HK are not willing to pay much for a piece of ceramics, given there’s a lot of factory made products out there on the market selling at ridiculously low price. If they find out the many processes and hard work that are involved behind handmade ceramics I’m sure they will learn to appreciate more. High rent and limitation of the types of firing/ raw materials are also making it a challenge as a ceramicist in HK.
Q： What is your next goal or the new direction for your ceramic art?
A：I’m lucky to have different kinds of client commissioning me for projects like tableware design for restaurants and I am also currently creating for a studio flat project. I don’t think there should be any limitations or rules when I create. So I wouldn’t say that I only focus on doing tableware, I’m also working on some art pieces/ objects at the moment and I would like to mix other materials such as metal/ glass with ceramics in the future.