[Cultural Currents]

Andrea Piller

Exploring the limits of clay has been at the heart of Andrea Piller’s practice since she first discovered ceramics 40 years ago. Even now, at the heart of her work, experimentation and curiosity provide a foundation towards final form and function.

There’s an unpredictability to Andrea’s work – asymmetrical designs, bold textures, playful etchings – that is clearly informed by close observations of nature. Having lived in the County for 10 years, she approaches her craft with the question: “How do I take my external world that I see in my everyday living and apply it to this material?”

Her practice is both process-driven (how clay, heat and glazes “work”) and gut reaction; something as mundane as a tree falling opens unexpected possibilities and surprising collaborations, such as her recent porcelain and buckthorn installation at Guildworks in Bloomfield. “It’s circumstance, it’s experience, it’s sightlines that excite me. And then the question, ‘What’s going to happen next?’”

Lately, she’s been exploring how to incorporate wild clay harvested from her pond into her practice: “It makes no sense to use wild clay when manufactured clay does a better job of holding its shape, or not cracking, but it’s a great example of how I might use clay as a medium to be what it is in a more conceptual way.”

Andrea finds she’s at a place where she gets to slow down, swapping production for contemplation: “Making something that has a true human feel to it, that isn’t mass produced, is important to me,” she says. “When you pick up an object that’s handmade, you want it to have the spirit of the maker in it.”


Story by:
Fiona Campbell

[Winter 2021/2022 departments]