Seeing an object as beautiful and adoring an object – those are two different things, right?
To own an object, in particular, should be a moving experience.
A small dish with a grainy, sandy-eggshell texture akin to an earl grey cookie; slabs of brown clay dotted by clouds, or mountains, spurring memories of a taste of food that melts in one’s mouth…
These are but some examples of the craft of ceramicist Henri, who makes tableware inspired by, and in turn inspires, her work as a pastry chef. Following Rivière, her first pâtisserie in Taipei, Henri has moved to Tainan to open Seaknoll and her latest project, Marsh. Nestled in a historic building, Marsh fulfills the natural imagery at the heart of the pâtisseries’ monikers – one which, nurtured by water, trickles into pastures new.
“A marsh is an area of low-lying land which is waterlogged. Static and unassuming, it nurtures various forms of life. With a few more personal touches, I hope my latest project reflects this spirit and becomes part of your everyday life.” And it does – with desserts and their vessels galore, decorative tiles softened by green and curves.
Whilst Henri’s ceramic sculptures resemble her pastries, she believes the reverse is true. “I started off as a ceramicist, before stepping into the new challenge of baking. Much of making pastries is learning sequences: how to hold and shape pastry shells, how much pressure to apply between one’s fingers and thumbs, and so on. Making pottery is very much the same, so it got easier when I returned to the craft. There are many similarities between coating a cake and throwing a clay, both of which are done a wheel.”
As the two crafts coincide, if one were to tap into their repository, what would they find to be continuously soul enriching? “I think it’s every little thing in life. I’m not vehement in my ways – this seems to be my defining attribute. Rather, I prefer the soft, the simple and the compatible – that which blends in and stays with me for a long time.” Henri says she wants to specialise in the kind of pastries that she would enjoy every single day without fail. Naturally, her favourite floral arrangement is the kind she would love to wake up to, first thing in the morning.
“I’m a morning person, but that’s not because of work. I just love the stretches of space between waking and going to work – to immerse myself idly in the first light and music, as the alarm goes off. Then I would make myself a pour over coffee and listen to the whistle of boiling water, the low humming of the grinder – aromas wafting from the room.” Intervals as such become the fabric of a way of life, not dissimilar to the beloved art of ceramics: the coaxing and throwing of clay in rhythmic motion to force out any air bubbles. Weathered and softened, the spiral wedged lump takes on the shape of a wave.
We sail through life, dailiness as our anchor.