The fact of taking part of an artists’ family, has not prevented that JANAKI LARSEN, devotes herself to artistic work, she is a ceramist, and here you can see the energy and sincerity that she transmits in her interview
Janaki, I really like your work, and we will like to know more about it. You say you like dirt, but your work gives an image of purity and cleanliness, could you explain it to us?
I love that the material used to make vessels is essentially mud. Although it is dirt or mud it has such an amazing ability to be either highly refined and delicate like bone china or completely raw and rough like Japanese Shigaraki.
Having your artist family, was it hard at the beginning?
When I began my studies at Emily Carr, I was certain I didn’t want to be a potter or painter like my parents. It was late in my studies that I began making pots. When I was younger it was more important to me to have a separate artistic identity from my parents but now I feel it is great honour to be part of a family ‘tradition’, to come from a line of ‘makers’. I see these crafting traditions that are passed onto to younger generations disappearing and feel there is a great loss in that.
Colors do not take part of your work as an important issue, which is the reason for that?
Every once in a while I think I would like to work in color but I always go back to white, black and grey! I love the purity and simplicity of the natural color of the materials. I am more interested in experimenting with texture than colors. It could also be that my natural surroundings are in muted tones created by northern light.
For lava bowls, how do you make this surface finish and the contrast of both colors, the one in the back and the finished one?
I work with a black clay body and then experiment with adding organic materials to the white glazes. i.e sawdust, tea leaves, coffee grinds.
Where could we buy some of your pieces if we would like to?
Right now I sell through our shop in Vancouver and a shop in London called Mouki.
You create in your objects some irregular textures that give them a special touch, they look like if they were peeling, which is your intention for it?
I have always been in love with the textures created in nature. Peeling bark, eroded shells, the surface of pebbles. Since clay comes from the earth it lends itself nicely to these kinds of textures. I am interested in creating vessels that are as much about negative space (through there forms) and shadow as they are about functionality.
Which are your inspirations?
My mother always! Lucie Rie has always been a favourite as well as many Japanese potters. I feel very connected to the concept of wabi-sabi.
Do you think about an idea, and draw a sketch or it is through working process that it comes out?
I rarely draw anything first. I am working on some deigns for lighting lately so have been sketching those out first. Mostly I’ll just see what I feel like making or see what dishes we are in most need of!
For whom you fabricate these pieces? Do you ever imagine the final client?
I am selfish, I make things for myself; things I would like to have or see. I am not a production potter because I don’t possess the discipline to make the same thing over and over again. I have a short attention span and often make small runs of things until the next idea comes along. I only just recently started making dinnerware, it’s hard for me but it’s good practice!
Tell us, how a normal day in your work is?
Well, we also have a café and a 4 year old so my days are pretty chopped up by whatever demands arise. Today, I’ll go put the heat on in the studio and wedge up some clay. Hopefully I’ll be able to throw some prototypes for pendant lights. I am just starting these so I am experimenting with porcelain and grey clays. Then it’s time to pick up Lola for ballet!
Do you make any mark to recognize your designs?
I don’t but I really should.
Do you spend time in your work to publications or other media to make yourself know and increase sales, or you have someone to help you?
No, I am a one person show. I was fortunate that with the success of our café came a lot of exposure for my ceramics. Word of mouth and the internet have been the most powerful tools.
Which is the most difficult thing in your work?
The most difficult thing for me is time. Ceramics is fussy and is a lot to do with timing. I lose a lot in the drying process because I get tied up in the shop or distracted in other ways. Also, consistency is tricky, I am terrible at taking notes so sometimes I’ll make an amazing glaze but can’t repeat it because I can’t remember what I put in it!
What you like more from your work?
I guess more consistency and more time!
Which one has been your biggest success?
That depends, I used to make the black ones and only a few people were interested in them but now, everyone wants those ones.
What’s your dream project?
To build a studio in the country and ship all over the world. Then design a boutique hotel and then open a lifestyle store that is all about handmade objects and then…
What is beauty for you?
Beauty is subtle, it’s textural and authentic. I think I feel the beauty in things as much as I see them.
That’s a tough one! Be true to your aesthetic and don’t try to figure out what other people want. You’ll drive yourself crazy.
And finally….. her own “mdby paper image”….