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In conversation with the exceptional ceramicist Anna-Karina

In conversation with the exceptional ceramicist Anna-Karina

The amazing Anna-Karina Elias occupies a creative territory that is entirely her own. She remains almost invisible to the public but her ceramic work speaks volumes. Her mysterious persona but strong presence is evident in the sculptural pieces that she brings to life - the form, function and glaze making the pieces authentically hers. We speak with Anna-Karina about her creative process and her current daily rituals.

On her daily rituals

I start my day with a stove pot coffee and drink it from one of two small cups I’ve made ( the size is important), I light hinoki and moss incense and always light a white candle. I have an array of favourite pens that I NEED, and different size journals and note pads, all with their own specific paper. I usually wear my 10 year old boots with holes and a fine Japanese linen apron. I use a Japanese bristle brush to scrub the clay off my hands and arms, and a burnt sienna cotton hand towel to dry them. During the day I drink Korean Hydrangea tea and will always have at least two books with me where ever I go.

Her creative process
My process varies greatly depending on what I’m working on. If I’m making functional ware or vessels, my process is less oblique and much more linear and crystalline. I work toward an outcome and so there is a more physical, tangible aspect to it, more often than not, I’ll be making more than one piece and that’s repetitive and rhythmic. I do quite a bit of experimenting with regard to form, function, glaze, yet still try to keep the pieces authentically mine. Working on sculptural pieces or for an exhibition is entirely different. It’s much more opaque and there is quiet a bit of dreaming and reading, sitting with myself and wrestling with the concept and the legitimacy of it. I feel the weight of a body of work more, simply because it’s usually self referential and exposing. After wrestling with myself and my mind, I do some preliminary experiments, writing, drawing and one thing leads to another and suddenly I’m in a space of complete surrender and make work that I cannot even begin to explain where it comes from. There are times when I’ve made the first piece and it immediately makes sense, and other times I’ve made five or six sculptural pieces and I’ve thrown them away - I’m learning to resist this urge and keep them as reference, and have had to start again.

On her main source of inspiration

The two recurring themes of my work is nature and the human condition. How I make sense of these through myth, philosophy, psychology, literature, ritual and belief.

On her favourite songs to listen to
I couldn't tell you my favourite songs, but I’ve been listening to The Style Council , Sade and Maxwell these last couple of weeks.

On the best book that she has read
This question is hard for me, so I’ll answer it like this, the one book that took me on an emotional roller coaster was Foam of the Days by Boris Vian. Melancholic and discursive, surreal in parts as well as curious and absurd. It pierced my heart and I was left bereft for days. Four young romantic lovers whose golden days slowly erode, lost youth, lost hopes, unfulfilled dreams and a tragic bohemian end. It was poetic in its despair and longing.

Her wellness rituals
Moving your body, however that means to you. I do yoga, I walk to the lighthouse and for strength building I do resistance training with a kick ass beautiful trainer, who keeps me laughing the whole time. Once a month I try and get a massage.

On her favourite time of day
I love waking very early in the morning whilst everyone is asleep, there is so much hope and possibility in the morning.

Something she is interested in learning more about outside her current medium
I’m about to embark on a building project that I’ve been dreaming about for many years. A house, studio, apartment and barn. I’m quietly learning all I can about passive buildings - I wanted to study architecture this year but I was going through some personal things so put it aside for now.

Personal strategies she uses to bring herself back to a state of happiness

It’s important to meet yourself where you are, acknowledge your space and allow for what ever comes up to come up. Happiness is subjective, it’s not something you can work for or towards, I’ve learnt to make space for it by cultivating joy. Small moments of joy everyday is more important than happiness. I walk to my creek at the end of my property , I jump in the ocean, or collect shells, I walk to the lighthouse and look at the sea everyday. I cook myself a meal I crave and drink a beautiful glass of wine. I call my mum and/or my sister. Always be kind to yourself first.

A meal she loves to cook
I love to cook and eat pasta!

Words of advice she would offer to her younger self
Trust yourself always, meet people where they are and leave them where they are, you cannot save anyone nor is it your duty to take on their beliefs. You will always think and see things differently, and because of this you will loose people you love. You are stronger than you think and will survive the most heart wrenching situations. You can change your life at anytime and its no ones business. To be a woman is a gift. To be an artist is a gift.

Anna-Karina wears the Corbusier shirt

Photography by Claudia Smith
Interview by Anna Harding


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