All In A Day's Work

Discover Ceramicist Tanya Gomez at work preparing for Collect, the art fair for contemporary objects at London's Saatchi Gallery
Video by Sarah Weal

Time at sea working as a deck hand sailing in the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean before gaining an MA in Ceramics from the Royal College of Art has possibly had the most profound influence on the work of Tanya Gomez. The ceramicist is exhibiting this year at Collect, the international art and contemporary objects fair held at the Saatchi Gallery, London.

“It’s quite something being on the open sea when there is no visibility of land. You have no orientation and when the mist rolls in and you can’t see the horizon, your sense of gravity alters as you don’t have the perspective of the horizon line. 

You’re out there in the middle of the ocean and you don’t have any light pollution so you are feeling all the elements and utter wonderment: the swell of the sea, as well as the ever changing light and reflections or big dark skies, the colours, the sunsets and sunrises."

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How did you set about preparing your interpretation of a ‘day’ for Collect?

“The forms, the colours and the sizes of the vessels are pretty much the same but it was the amount I made, 35 of them, and ensuring that they all worked together."

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The taller pieces are made from three parts while the others are usually from two parts . A single pot will take 2-3 weeks from start to finish, but to throw it, it’s a 3-day process of probably 45 minutes per day. Everything is made in her studio in Lewes, near the South coast of England. Tanya outsourced someone to make the mantle piece as that is an aluminum frame clad with wood, which had to be strong enough to support the work. 

"I wanted to create a background that was atmospheric and evocative of how a day might look. I suppose in some ways it’s ambiguous but that’s one way you might interpret it.

The colours represent different moods: the reds and yellows are the rising of the sun and are, I suppose, quite literal and the darker colours are the times when you rest or have low points.”

"The aesthetic of my work is quite clean but the pots do have a movement to them. I like to think that the glazes have a sense of depth which draw you towards them. "

Tanya Gomez

How do you visualize your pots being used?

“I like the dual functionality of these pots and the fact they are taking up a bit of space in someone else’s world. But it’s up to them whether they are used in a decorative way or, let’s say, they are used to hold flowers. Some of the things I create can’t hold anything but are more sculptural.

I think there’s been a real resurgence in pottery because clay is something people can get their head around. There’s a certain nostalgic element to it; perhaps it reminds them of school. You can work it in lots of ways, rolling it or pinching it. 

The aesthetic of my work is quite clean but the pots do have a movement to them. I like to think that the glazes have a sense of depth which draw you towards them."

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Image by Jonnie Bassett