INTERVIEWED BY Michaela Stehr IMAGES courtesy of Farah Hernandez
Born in Spain, Farah Hernandez started her pottery journey after moving to South Africa in 2004. Here, VISI chats to her about her influences, processes and future plans.
Tell us a bit about how you started in ceramics?
I just love getting my hands dirty! It started as a hobby, then I got my own kiln to do it from home. I had to start selling – because there are only so many birthdays you can go to with one of your pots. Shortly after, I got selected as one of the Emerging Creatives for Design Indaba and that pushed it into becoming my full-time job. In 2015, I had to leave the country for three years but after coming back doing ceramics was the only thing that made sense to me.
Do you have any South African or Spanish influences that show in your work?
I’m not sure! But there probably are: the white and blue is typical of the traditional pottery from the south of Spain where I come from, but then again, I have lived most of my life in SA. There are definitely some African influences in the shapes and geometric patterns, but maybe that’s for the viewer to decide…
Do you think you’ll venture away from the traditional blue and white?
Yes, but it will probably always be there as it has become a kind of signature and I feel very comfortable with the technique. I am already (slowly) introducing other clays and other glazing and decorating techniques. I’ve also been steering away from colour completely and leaving the pieces nude to focus on the shape.
What processes do you follow when creating a piece?
It’s a long process of patience and love. First comes the wedging of the clay, before I roll them into thin slabs. Then comes the measuring and cutting of the different parts; carefully attaching them (some pieces have about 12 paper-thin pieces that make the puzzle); monitoring the drying process; sanding; painting; firing; glazing; and firing again. From start to finish, with all the drying processes in between, it takes about two weeks to create a finished piece.
How would you describe your style?
Hmmm… I’m not sure! There has also been quite a big change in style since I got back but I honestly just don’t think too much about it. Suggestions welcome.
Do you have a favourite thing to create?
Yes, I’m loving making these new vases with different parts. The process is fun (having a big slab of clay and cutting and attaching pieces until the final shape comes) and there is often very little planning beforehand. I love working on more sculptural pieces with other clays, but those I have only been making for myself so far.
Oh!… and the boobs, I love the sculpting of different sizes and shapes. It has been quite a journey.
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Are there any local ceramicists that inspire you?
Yes! There are so many amazing ceramicists in South Africa. Some of my favourites are Katherine Glenday, David Walters, Ralph Johnson, Clementina van der Walt and John Bauer, to name a few – I’m sure I’m forgetting lots of names.
I would love to work on more collaborations and focus a little more on once-off collections of bigger work. But definitely, obviously, just carry on making.