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Ksenia Wallenstein | Ceramics in memory of the quarantine

There are some who think that the covid-19 pandemic will not leave a severe mark in the history of humanity (saying it’s practically nothing compared to the plague), but those currently experiencing it can feel more and more as if they are the part of a very significant historical era. More and more works of art are created that intend to commemorate the coronavirus for posterity – just like ceramist Ksenia Wallenstein ceramics pieces created based on this very experience that are only a prelude to a statue installation in progress. Interview!

It seems that there are no two identical pieces amongst your ceramics. Do you strive to create unrepeatable pieces intentionally?

As these are hand-made items, yes, it’s absolutely true that each and every one of them is one of a kind. Even in the case of tableware: it can be seen that they are from the same family, but they still differ from each other. 

How would you describe your style? What inspires you?

I am very fond of natural materials, and nature itself serves as the greatest source of inspiration to me. I like the approach of wabi-sabi – I think this mindset helps a lot in this world built on perfection. 

I also like folk art – by the way I am examining Hungarian folk embroidery motifs at the moment, because I would like to incorporate some into my next tableware collection. 

“Luckily I haven’t found my style yet. The truth is, clay offers so many opportunities and challenges that I continuously develop, change and create something new. And that’s okay. For me, committing to a single style equals stagnation.”

Tell us a bit about the process of creation – from the idea to realization.

Generally it starts with me needing something, for example a pot, a vase or a tableware that is ergonomic, minimalist and very living at the same time. During design, it’s an important aspect for me that the products be practical in terms of storage. My favorite is when I hear from my customers that they got rid of many unnecessary dishes in the kitchen and now they have a single shelf with my ceramics and it’s perfectly enough. So I think making my customers’ lives easier and nicer with my products is what I enjoy the most.

We could say that you were amongst the first artists who responded to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Many ideas need time, and in the case of clay, creating a piece could even take a month together with drying and burning. However, the outbreak changed our lives so suddenly and so quickly that I wanted to respond to it promptly. To this end, while I’m working on a separate statue series and installation in this topic, I created these keepsakes. I added signs that define our days to mugs: self-isolationkaranténba zárva (quarantined), stay home, moss kezet (wash your hands), or my personal favorite: Semmelweisnek igaza volt (Semmelweis was right). I also plan to expand the collection with signs coming from several countries in several languages, this way emphasizing that we are part of an “event” concerning each and every one of us, and the entire planet. Now we can truly experience Unity.

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