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We sit down with ceramic artist and sculptor, Ana Kerin, founder of KANA London, to discover more about her work and the inspiration which fuels it.
Where do you find inspiration?
LIFE. People, meeting new people, spending time with people, I get inspired by stories, truths, life and its sweet, savoury and bitter flavours... I love life. I have a rule: I try to stay away from practices that are too similar - and for long periods from exhibitions too. I need space and mental cleanliness. I don't like my subconscious mind to be influenced by things that will affect my practice. I love food, experiences, and contemporary ballet. I look for influence from things that are pure in a way that is remote from my medium and practice. I am a strange mix of introvert and extrovert and I think that's the reason I need the social aspect of life and my work and working with people, as time in the studio is solitary.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
The mix of them. It must be clay, but not really as an end material. I love working with it, as I love its softness, fast speed, forgiveness and sensitivity to carry fingerprints and catch the traces of movement. I also like it as a material to capture the metamorphosis. I miss casting things into plaster, wax, and bronze, and combining materials with stone, marble and wood. That's when the energy of different processes and materials comes to life and the softness of clay in contrast with the sharpness of other materials is such incredible dialogue. It's great to see the pieces made in one material and then realised in another; the journey from clay sculpture being made into a mould and then cast into plaster or hand-blown into glass.
What feeling do you hope to evoke in your work?
I love working with emotions in general, but mostly I want to create work that holds your emotions as a vessel, that reflects them, that allows space and time for the emotions to be evoked, even provoked in the most gentle ways. I think as a sculptor I am incredibly tactile. I don't know what was first my obsession with materials and touching them and the sensorial experience they gave you, they are so calming and create a conversation you might not expect. Or it might have been first just the fact that I was always very touchy-feely and tactile. I resonate with different bodywork practices, spiritual practices, dance, and the study of the body and touch as a form of self-expression and connection, and I always saw my work and sculpture/sculpting as an extension of that... I want you to be connected and grounded. Connected to materials and people, world and moments around you. Holding, seeing, touching, and experiencing my work makes people stop and enjoy the moment, creating a ritual out of mundane and everyday essential things.
Photo credit: Ola O Smit
How do you take time to recharge?
If possible, I spend time by the sea (and swim in the sea as much as possible), I am a water baby. water gives me clarity, calms down my nervous system, and somehow puts things into place in my mind and on my emotional landscape.
On more of an everyday basis, I have to make my own food to really feel nourished and fed. I think that from picking up vegetables in the shop and making the ideas flow through my mind a lot when cooking the dishes and eating them something is healing and nourishing in a different way than just in nutritional value of food. I process many emotions through food, and when feeling sad, overwhelmed, anxious, sad or just have a lot on my mind I have to sometimes just take a break and make a meal, with chopping the ingredients the thoughts fall into place, with creating the dish the nervous system calms down and often I get great ideas and emotions resolved. I often feel I would be the happiest running a cafe with 5 tables no menu, just what's on the blackboard. Who knows maybe that lies in Kana's future...
How do you find beauty in the everyday?
Try to be present. And see each one of the moments and experiences for its beauty and value as part of a mosaic of life. We can not see the light without its shadows...
Photo Credit: Sarah Victoria Bates
You offer a holistic approach to art and lifestyle – where did this come from?
My family upbringing and the fact that I was born in former Yugoslavia and grew up through my formative years in a space that was strongly embodying socialist values while I was exposed to spirituality from an early age created a very interesting foundation for how I see life and how I experience life. I grew up with the land, exposed to life rotating around the seasonal relationships with the land and plants you grow, harvest, and forage. With a strong sense of community, sharing, valuing every resource, and sharing time, skills and experiences. The time of my upbringing was crucial in the history of former Yugoslavia and living through its separation, the values dying, the socialism falling and capitalism interrupting the flow of life. Seeing these changes made me hyper-aware. I feel my senses and intuition are very much in tune and heightened. A lot of my work and especially birthing Kana studio was to bring awareness and connection back to natural materials, crafts, skills and objects that are meant to last for a lifetime and be passed down through generations... where art meets life. The simpler life, elevating your everyday moments.
Visit the Kana London website to discover more about Ana and her work.