The genuine spirit of ceramics
Antigoni Pantazi was born in Athens and in 1998 had her first contact with Ceramics.The sculptural possibilities of the material trully inspired her so she decided to study Ceramics in Cardiff. After returning back home, she started run her own workshop and gallery while at the same time was exhibiting her work in Denmark, London, Swansea, Cardiff Bay and many cities across Greece. As a genuine creative professional, Antigoni is a member of the Greek Chamber of Fine Arts (ΕΕΤΕ), and the Panhellenic Union of Ceramists and Potters (PEKA).
We had the chance to have a small talk with her about ceramics in Greece.
Ceramic Art plays a big part in Greek tradition. In your opinion, do modern Greeks relate with contemporary ceramic art nowadays?
In my opinion, the Greek public may be familiar with certain kinds of decorative handmade ceramics but not extensively with what we call contemporary art object. Galleries and art shops little by little are introducing more innovative artifacts and I am optimistic that the public will gradually embrace them and the handmade art object will gain its rightful place in Greek homes.
What made you become a ceramic artist?
It was decided that I was going to follow art studies after school. I was good at several subjects but at seventeen I was more of a rebel and dreamer to follow any other discipline. It was while I was preparing for the art school that a friend of mine introduced me to ceramics and it was an instant love. To me, ceramics embody all art forms, drawing, painting, sculpting and even more. You can focus on one aspect or more, it has so many possibilities that will never bore you. It is literary an endless art, only limited by ones imagination.
You have studied in UK, but what influenced you more, your studies abroad or your memories of GREEK ceramic art?
I believe my culture is a part of me that cannot be ignored. Of course I’m influenced by the Greek ceramic art, maybe not as obviously as reproducing forms and imagery, but more subtly, relating to the austerity and simplicity of the forms, the clear and straightforward designs and all that Greek art embodies.
So the primary material was already there, but it was my studies that gave me the tools to externalize and develop my ideas.
You also run a workshop where you teach ceramic in public. Which forms are most preferable in the classroom?
Most of the people that come to my studio are not entirely aware of what they are going to learn. They usually have something more traditional in mind but when I introduce them to contemporary ceramics and sculptural subjects I believe they get more intrigued. But since clay is the primary material for domestic objects it’s only natural that people prefer making their own decorative handicrafts to enjoy at home. In any case my main concern is that the forms, whatever they may be, are well executed and every project is completed in the best possible way.
So far, you have created a rich collection of functional and decorative objects, even jewelry. With which form you prefer to work?
I love experimenting with everything that can be made by clay. When I see a new technique on the internet I want to try it out and I always have more ideas to explore. Unfortunately my own creative time is somehow limited and I usually prefer spending it on my favorite art form, sculpture. I usually work with the human figure; there are so many ways to render the body and the head, so many aspects to explore. To me, the human figure is the most stimulating subject.
In collection “HEADS”, is there a specific meaning of the facial expressions?
“HEADS” was my degree project and yes, it was all about the expressions. All the forms were double faced and each face had different characteristics and expression. The meaning that I wanted to convey was, as I’ve written at my artistic statement “The double-faced heads are not representational portraits of particular people. They are psychological maps of our personality. Love, harmony, anger, fear, they are all traits of every one of us and can coexist within us. The two faces on one head act not only as a metaphor of this coexistence of emotions, but also as a bridge of the dualistic perceptions of our world. They are not opposites trapped in the same body, just different expressions and aspects of the same things, like day and night are two aspects of the sky with no definite boundaries between them”.
What is your biggest dream as a ceramist?
I have plenty of dreams regarding my career and I also have many about ceramics in general. One of my visions is to see ceramic art getting credit for its real worth and be more widely accepted as equal to other art forms in my country. It is almost absurd that there is no degree in ceramics at the Greek universities and I hope my generation will be the one that brings the change.
Thank you very much for the inspiring interview.
Thank you for giving me this great opportunity to talk about what I love and thank you for showcasing Greek ceramic art!