Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Modern ceramics in Provence at Sophie Lassagne - Arles



One of the aspects that I miss most about living in the center of Arles is the delight I would feel upon walking out my front door on the rue de la Liberté (Liberty Street!) and seeing all of the shopkeepers with whom I had become friendly over the years. They each have their own fabulous characters - Alex at the Cuisine de Comptoir, Christine Millerin at her eponymous boutique and certainly, the incredibly talented ceramicist, Sophie Lassagne. I held a certain amount of pride about living amongst the les endroits les plus branchés de la ville - especially as they are run by such wonderful people. 


Sophie opened up her atelier at about the same time that Remi and I launched our gallery. That is how we met actually. But she had already become well-established in Provence by founding her previous workshop in St. Remy some twenty years earlier. It was a smashing success and yet she - as we did (and do) - believed in the artistic future of Arles and so made the leap to her current space. From what she has said, she doesn't regret the change in the least and has certainly been warmly welcomed by the local community as well as those visiting Arles as her work is - tout simplement - exceptional.


But I will let her motivation speak for itself. 

From her artist's statement:

"At the roots of my inspiration stands my childhood, in-between Asia and Africa, where have been woven the opposites. Hands deep in the clay, I have been wandering and seeking for a balance at the heart of their vital energies.
On the shelves of my studio, I have the feeling that I recognize the subtle blend of their singularity, the emergence of a harmony between a useful piece of work and a purely artistic research, between the fluidity and the mineral material, and between the lightness and the colourful density of what I am creating.
These thoughts invite me to follow my path, in a delicate balance between the rigors required by working with the soil, its generosity, and the purity of the lines and the curvy contours of my pieces of work."

Et en français :
"Aux sources de mon inspiration l’enfance, entre l’Asie et l’Afrique où se sont tissés tous les contraires. Les mains plongées dans l’argile, j’ai cheminé à la recherche d’un équilibre au cœur de leurs forces vives.
Sur les étagères de mon atelier aujourd’hui, il me semble reconnaître l’alliance de leur singularité, l’émergence d’une harmonie entre une œuvre utilitaire et une recherche purement artistique, entre la fluidité et le minéral de la matière, la légèreté et la densité lumineuse des couleurs que je crée.
Une évidence qui m’invite à continuer sur le chemin, dans ce lent balancement, entre la rigueur qu’impose le travail de la terre, ses exigences et ses largesses, la pureté de ses lignes et la générosité de ses rondeurs."


Amazing, non


Provence is a far more complex region than the clichés lead us to believe and Arles is doubly so. But Sophie passes beyond the obvious...by taking a bit of the brutal sun and the gentle glow of the evening light, a bit of the fierce Mistral winds but also the douceur of a perfect day, the shades of the ancient past and the energy building for the future...then adding it all together and distilling the essence down to something sublimely zen...but never too precious to be used for everyday.


She uses nothing but the most traditional methods, materials and pigments as well her own glazing technique which she developed to bring out a pearly luminescence in her finished pieces.


And yet, despite this elegance, everything remains at prices that are incredibly affordable. "I want it to be so that anyone who wants to buy something can," she admitted to me affably. 


And that, along with the variety and gorgeousness of her pieces, is why she has become the go-to source for gifts of all shapes and sizes in Arles.


Such accessibility is also an extension of Sophie's personality. She is nearly always in her atelier, working away...


...the door is usually open and the radio on. At times, she is in the midst of coaching a few lucky students but she will always pause to wave or say Hello. 


And blissfully, there is not an overworked cigale or olive motif in sight. No, no, the afore-mentioned clichés were swept out the door long before she lit the kiln for the first time in Arles.


For Sophie is a true artist. One who works to please herself...


...and in doing so, makes a lot of others happy in return.

Sophie Lassagne
Céramiste
12 rue de la Liberté
13200 Arles

Tel. +33 (0)6 67 09 47 50
Email: contact@alcaline.com

A note to my designer friends, while Sophie does not ship internationally herself, she is willing to work with your shipping company. 

And to everyone - I hope it goes without saying that this is in no way a sponsored post, I am just delighted to talk about an artist whose work I truly believe in!


PS. Thank you for all of your kind comments and emails concerning my previous post...

36 comments:

  1. Her work is just beautiful and I admire her artistic integrity. Thank you so much for sharing your beautifully written blog post about this fascinating artist. Because of this, I will make a point of finding her ceramics next time I visit this part of France.

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    1. That is wonderful, Sunday. I know that you won't be disappointed!

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  2. I've been studying with Sophie for more than 5 years. Every word you said about her and her work is true and then some. She is also an excellent teacher/mentor.

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    1. I have loved seeing her work with students when I pass by - she is a wonderful person!

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  3. Oh yum.. Even if I weren't a pottery slut, I'd love her work— the clean lines, the wide array of colors, and the fact that her pieces practically scream, "hold me, cup your hands around me!"

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    1. Don't they ever! I adore pieces that entice the hand.

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    2. I have to say that "pottery slut" made me smile, Judith. ;)

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  4. Mmmmm - looks beautiful!! Did we go in her shop? I love love love the colors - what an experience it must be to see them all together! Super yummy and I love how you photographed it - especially the last one which caps it so nicely! Thank you for introducing us to her!

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    1. I think we did go in to her boutique Sister!

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  5. OKAY...............HOw many bowls do you think I can pack and take home once I get there!

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    1. Knowing you?! I predict 100. Some of which would be incorporated into a hat!

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  6. Simple, elegant and vibrant - as one who has potted in the past, it is far easier said than done. In a world of mass production and material churn, artisans such as Sophie Lassagne are to be supported and admired for their skill, discipline and often financial sacrifice for their art. They help to maintain and enrich the local culture. It is up to us to support them ( as you do Heather) so they can continue to do so. Thank you Heather - another place on my list to visit when we next make it down south. xxx

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    1. Ah, you know that I agree with you completely EE - and you said it so perfectly as well. Do go if you are near, she is lovely to meet and so very talented.

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  7. What gorgeous colour combinations she has used and such simple honest shapes! I love them all, not one I wouldn't have! If only she was local! I also had a peek at Christine's website of her interesting products also.
    Thank you for the introduction to these fine artisans!
    Cheers,
    Deborah C.

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    1. You are welcome, Deb! And yes, I will do a post on Christine too at some point. :)

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  8. The sun is shining a little brighter in my life, for the moment, so I have some spare beams to send your way. Can you feel their comforting warmth? :)

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  9. To see an artist at work, working with her hands and shaping beautiful ceramic pieces expresses an essence of a wonderful experience. Her works are functional and decorative.Probably every time you use the cup or bowl will bring the memory of her meticulous artistic hands.

    Beautiful.

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    1. Edgar, I think that everyone who I have given her work to feels that way.

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  10. Her work is remarkably simply and so elegant. Gorgeous. I want one of everything. I take that back. I want more!

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    1. Well, I guess you are just going to need to visit Arles then Sandy. ;)

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  11. Heather I love that you featured this incredibly talented artist.
    She is so accomplished and her works inspired and luminous!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena
    Giveaway from The Enchanted Home!

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    1. Karena, you have done so much to feature talented artists yourself, I am glad that you approve!

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  12. Your post arrived in my email with impeccably perfect timing...I am spending the week (of course with Papillon, ma bicyclette) in Arles, and will visit her place. Thanks!

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    1. Oh fabulous!!! Happy trails and enjoy Arles... :)

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  14. Gorgeous work! I love the shapes and colors and am amazed at the luminosity she is able to achieve in her glazes. It's as if she has been able to capture the essence of pearls in them. Beautiful!

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    1. You saw it exactly and I am so glad as I felt that my photos didn't capture that enough!

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  15. Such beautiful, beautiful work -- how can it be made so traditionally yet appear so absolutely contemporary? Wonderful! Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. I am glad that you liked the post - I too like that same dichotomy in her work.

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  16. Love the simplicity and the inviting ergonomics and colours- all of it. A gorgeous share :-)

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    1. I only have imaginary pictures of what your Home looks like based on your writing but I can definitely see that some of her pieces would work perfectly chez toi!

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  17. Dear Heather, May I share this post on my FB status?

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    1. Oh absolutely! And feel free to post the link here as well. I have a feeling that this post will just keep resonating with people, similar to the post about the espadrilles at Jute!

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  18. Beautiful, simple, elegance...such a talent..I love all her pieces!
    Have a lovely week, Heather xx

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