Ceramic, Underglaze, Glaze

Photography: Sakari Tervo

Electric blues, mustard yellows and pale pinks come together in a plethora of textures and shapes in Finnish artist Man Yau’s ceramic sculptures. Assembled as a kind of 3D collage, the sculptures were created on a residency in Japan’s Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park (SCCP) as part of a program by the Finnish Institute in Japan. The works show the technical skills and glazing experiments that Yau developed over her six weeks in Japan, as well asencompassing hidden stories and symbolsin their shapes and engraved sentencesthat reflect on her experiences as aceramic artist and time in Japan.

Once I got to Japan I realized that the whole city of Shigaraki is only about ceramics. There are lots of ceramic studios and I realized that there is such an extended knowledge about glazes and materials that I do not have access to in Finland in my ceramic studio. So I decided that I wanted to put all my energy into the glazing techniques.

As you can see in the works, there are many layers look as if they are glued together. I really wanted to put a focus on how to develop that technique in order to keep the ceramic quality — meaning that I do not add any glue or any additional things that are not ceramics.

Text: Lara Chapman


Photography: Emma Sarpaniemi

In the beginning of the process I started to sculpt “something” out of wood with my chainsaw in the forest, without really knowing what it would become. Learning the nature of the new material seemed liberating. As I worked in an isolated environment and without a clear plan, it gave me the opportunity to focus entirely on the creating and constructing in its entirety, but also forced me to deal with the relationship with my own artistic identity. Sculpting became a method to produce something that I can hardly describe in words, and after a while, all of this absurdity started to make sense – at least in my head. I started to dream about Delfu’s world, I imagined her swimming in the sea, surrounded by glossy and colorful surfaces, and in order to make it actually happen, I needed to work on each sculpture to look like there’s no human touch. So all the countless hours spent on those sculptures needed to be hidden so that Delfu and her world would become independent.

The Delfu exhibition is about an illusion of the rational world and the paradox of the artistic work. In the exhibition text, written by Lauri Alaviitala, referred to Albert Camus’ essay dealing the Myth of Sisyphus (Albert Camus: The Myth of Sisyphus [Le Mythe de Sisyphe, 1942], English translation Justin O’Brien, 1955 ). In Camus’ essay, he concludes that “One must imagine Sisyphus happy”, and in Lauri’s text the work of Sisyphus is compared to the artistic work. “A perfect sculpture does not show the hours worked, the versions created, the learning of the nature of the material, the experiments that have been rejected – the fallen boulders. Being sharp-eyed can be torturous, but only continuing one’s work will make one’s victory complete. Every time Sisyphus follows his boulder down into the plain, he becomes more powerful than the boulder.”

The paradox comes when the reality steps in, and I once again realize the absurdity of my own work. One could say that Sisyphus’ fate is everyone’s fate: the workman of today works every day of his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd.