Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Maria Chatzinikolaki: Bellum

Maria Chatzinikolaki

Mugs by Maria Chatzinikolaki and Klaus Gutowski (available from The JamFactory Shop)

Maria Chatzinikolaki completed the JamFactory Associate Program last year, and is now a tenant in the Ceramic Studio. Her work is highly regarded and she was recently shortlisted for the SALA JamFactory Award. 
If you follow JamFactory on Facebook you may have seen a series of mugs (pictured above) which attracted the biggest response we've EVER had on a Facebook post!
Maria handpainted these mugs in a collaborative project with JamFactory tenant Klaus Gutowski. 
Her latest exhibition, Bellum, is showing at The JamFactory until 25 August. She talks about herself, her work, and more specifically Bellum.

Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?
Although I grew up in an artistic environment, becoming an artist for me was a pleasant accident. I found myself from working in retail for a shop that sold ceramics to working in their studio replacing one of their production ceramicists. Two years later I was decorating their main dinnerware range.
My dad was in the advertising business and my mom was a piano teacher and I always did crafty things as a kid with her and as an adult on my own trying to find a way to express myself. I now see that every single thing I have done has helped me choose my medium and shape my work to where it is now.

Which craftspeople, writers, artists, musicians, anyone do you find particularly inspiring and how have they influenced your approach to making?
Being influenced by pretty much everything, from paintings to poems, there are too many to mention here. Therefore I will talk about the ones who have influenced me directly by teaching or mentoring me.
Bruce Nuske showed me how to respect the medium I am working with and he taught me how clay is responding to my everyday attitude like a mirror.
Robin Best showed me basic techniques I was lacking experience in and advised me to focus on detail.
Prue Venables saw a different path and perspective in my work, reminded me to not be so hard on myself and last but not least, how important it is to be patient.
The combination of their help was all I needed to get kick-started.

Are there any specific quotes, ideas, places that influence this current body of work?
There is a quote that I always keep fresh in my mind. It is so diverse and it has helped me move on in my work to what I am doing now, as well as keep faith in myself in whatever I do even when things don’t go the way I want them to.
“Everything is connected in life. The point is to know it and to understand it”.
This quote is a reassurance that things, good or bad, always happen for a reason. It shows that there is always a link that connects the old with the new, whether that is work, decisions or everyday actions. I wouldn’t have this new body of work if I hadn’t produced previous bodies of work and it certainly comforts when something fails.

Are there any specific collections, museums that you have found inspiring and why?
Every visual stimulus is influential but I find art with foundation to be more solid when it comes to inspiration, like classical art movements that can never go wrong. You can always see a sense of freedom in exploring, regardless to how conservative each movement might be. This visible evolvement is easier found in museums and this is the reason I find them as most inspirational. You have the full history of art right there unrolling in front of you and challenging you to find the connections. Responding to that is my main inspiration.

Welcome us to your studio-where is it?
I am lucky to have my studio based in the heart of contemporary art. I am based on the second floor of the JamFactory in Adelaide. I have been working from there for a while and that is where I first attained my skills, started my practice, given fantastic opportunities and limitless support. I consider myself as a “JamFactory child” because that is where I was shaped as an artist and I can’t think of a better place to be or for a reason good enough to cut the umbilical cord and move on.

The work for your exhibition: Can you describe the specific themes reflected in this body of work?
Although my inspiration for the visual part of my work is coming from underwater life, my concept has derived from something different and has very little to do with it. It may sound contradicting, but in my work concept and inspiration are two different things that compliment each other.
On one hand my work is exploring the powerful relationship between time, moments and nature where each dot or mark represents a second of my life. Each piece requires a significant amount of time and that is why I have such a strong connection with each one of my pieces, as the process of creating is in itself as important as the final outcome.
On the other hand I aim to highlight the unseen, the invisible, the miniature and the easily overlooked. Weird and unique but interesting formations on any kind of surface and material (from rocks and plants to shells or even garbage) caused by the passing of time, by living organisms and deterioration itself are vital inspirational starting points.
I am not only concentrating on materials, their use, the skills required and the techniques involved but I am also focusing on reinterpreting patterns inspired by underwater life. Each finished item is just an interpretation and a combination of both my visual inspiration and my concept.

Describe your method of production in this current work.
I use liquid porcelain to cast my pieces in order to express curves influenced by nature and then I slip trail the same liquid porcelain in order to highlight and create detail. I work on my objects as much as I can when they are still damp, raw and unfired, I then edit and add detail after they have had their first firing at 900C and then I finalize everything by firing them at 1280C in an oxidation firing.

Bellum is at The JamFactory from 29 June - 25 August showing alongside Transparency, Blue Pony, and Indent. Drop by and see these great exhibitions at The JamFactory.