Finnish Studio Potter Erna Aaltonen


I’ve had a real craving for sculptural forms, the medium of clay happens to be most relevant considering the amount of time I spend working with the material (not to disregard any other art form though). Recent inspiration has been sourced through Paul Philp who experiments with geometric shapes and organic vases, the styles are contradictory but balance one another surprisingly well. This led me to hunt for other earthy sculpture of a similar kind. Erna Aaltonen was appealing on the eye and happens to be a maker closer to home than a lot of the other potters showcased here previously. The Finnish potter builds these fantastic sculptural vessels by hand, using coarse stoneware clay for the body and oxides rubbed on the surface to generate texture and pattern.

Her work made me think of our relationship with the environment and how this affects our output. It may be a general assumption on my part but you often think of lakes and islands when it comes to this part of Europe. I also picture gravel, sand and staggered rock. These edgy surfaces can be seen here in the structure of her pots, and I’m sure this mentality plays a big part in her inspiration. Another thing I instantly recognised is the maturity of these vessels and how they’re very sure of themselves, this probably comes from Erna being a relatively late starter in the world of ceramics. She only started studying at the age of thirty, but this seems to have grounded her nicely and has given her time to hone in on her own aesthetic and direction.

Her aim is to make round, abstract, sculptural forms, producing these shapes by using thin strips of clay that she joins end on end. The work is built up layer by layer and is sculpted purely by hand, no potters wheel or moulds. This collection of photographs were taken from her newest exhibition to date, at Puls Contemporary Ceramics in Brussels, Belgium. Her showcase ends on the 22nd of March, 2014 so you better be quick if you want to view these spectacular vessels up-close. If not, you can always check out the collection on the Puls gallery website linked below.








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