2020 Emerging Artist: Guy Van Leemput

Guy Van Leemput, Herentals, Belgium 

Ceramics Monthly: What techniques do you use to make your work and why?

Guy Van Leemput: Thin coils of porcelain are modelled piece by piece with a wooden stick on a balloon. I start at the bottom of the bowl and slowly work toward the top edge. Sometimes I draw the pattern I want to follow on the balloon, sometimes I work purely intuitively. When the balloon is removed, I have a wafer-thin bowl in my hands. This bowl is fired upside down on a support made from unfired clay, thus allowing the processes of gravity and melting to act out their parts during the firing and influence the final pot. The high firing temperature of 2336°F (1280°C) is needed for strength and translucency of the porcelain. Wood firing creates a beautiful white bowl with a sparkling, subtle pattern of glaze from ash deposits formed during the firing.

1 Guy Van Leemput’s Big Mind Circles, 11 in. (28 cm) in diameter, porcelain, handbuilt on a balloon, paper, flax, wood fired to 2300°F (1260°C), 2018. Photo: Dirk Theys.

Being a mathematician was a big help in designing my method for firing very thin, translucent bowls. The heart dictates the form, the head makes the decisions. Each result shows me who I am; more knowledge allows for yet a deeper discovery. It’s always exciting to open the kiln. When a work has become what I hoped for and I gently take the bowl into my hands, I feel such deep happiness and am truly moved. That is the real reason for me to make these bowls. It is my hope that others may feel the same emotion.

2 Guy Van Leemput’s You Are My Cathedral, 10 in. (26 cm) in diameter, porcelain, handbuilt on a balloon, paper, flax, wood fired to 2300°F (1260°C), 2018. Photo: Dirk Theys.

CM: What do you see as the current trends in ceramics and where do you see yourself in the field?

GVL: I’m glad there’s been more focus on ceramics lately, both for the craft of the potter and for the unique pieces of the studio ceramic artist. Nevertheless, I am convinced that there is much more potential. I hope that the increased appreciation that some of the pioneers of ceramics will allow many artists to persevere in following their own path. It is my conviction that in this way you can find your deepest self and really contribute to that beautiful world of ceramics.


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