She shapes clay
She is Jeannine Vrins, designer-maker of ceramics.
She balances between two worlds, that of art and that of design. In art she finds the story, in design the everyday usefulness. Why should poetry and symbolism be excluded from use in daily life? In the mug held in your hand, the fruit bowl that you move, the wash basin where you brush your teeth, Jeannine breathes life into the story, and brings the story to life. Her work shouts: “Use me, touch me!”
She is woman. Her work might be petrified tenderness, but equally subtle seduction. Those who look – or even better: feel – carefully, perceive a rippling of skin to skin, a slender waist in the clay, an embrace of contrasts. She moreover is down to earth. She likes to feel, to grab, to take hold of things – she moves everything. Even you. Through her ceramics she is near you. She is under your skin. And your skin is on hers.
She shapes with her hands. Her hands knead, rub, push, until the stubborn clay gives in, goes soft. Her hands wrap around the clay, they direct, give water, poke and stroke. Her hands brim with clay, with earth. Her hands transcend mug and saucer, pot and bowl, plate and vase. Her hands shape. And each shape leaves a trace in her hands.
She shapes stories. The tale of a mug dented with a small O for example: the O of wOnder, of Oker, but it could just as well be the O of a bellybutton. The Bellybutton Mugs arise. Mugs seemingly reflecting the lines of her skin. Mugs around which you fold your hands. So art becomes tangible. So contact becomes visible. So sanctuary becomes material.
She shapes while playing. A simple mug becomes extraordinary – and somewhat naughty – when you discover that it may also contain your A-cup, B-cup, or even C-cup … Cups enclose each other like Russian dolls, a saucer could just as well be their hat, a dinner set fits in and on and in between each one like a joint, and the Bellybutton Mugs are just the start, continued with bowls and plates. It’s that simple.
Clay has come a long way. First it was rock, weathered stone, eroded grains. Rivers carried them along and the ground harboured the sediment for thousands of years. Waiting for a new union, not with water and earth, but with (wo)man and fire.
Clay keeps an exciting feeling within. Clay keeps you close to the earth, and turns your hands into shapers. Coincidence strikes, and leaves a vase collapsed. Or a mug dented. Or a bowl that is just not entirely round. Imperfection is allowed, imperfection brings even more surprise.
Clay is as it is. It does not receive any new colour from her. Whatever it is and whatever it becomes, it is good. Through baking the clay becomes shell white. The inside is coated with a glaze, the outside is sintered tight with Terra Sigilata. That feels fine, that feels like skin, skin that you want to keep on touching, feeling, enclosing. You can still feel Jeannine’s hands when you wrap yours around your hot cup of coffee.
She shapes clay
text by Ann Verscuren