Ceramics - the painter's way19-Apr-2017
Ceramic artist Mia Sarosi usually starts her day with packing and sending an order before painting some of her new pieces. Inevitably the kiln will need firing up followed by and afternoon throwing at the wheel. Her workshop in rural Oxfordshire overlooks a beautiful lake, serving as a tranquil antidote to Mia’s busy six-day working week. Long weeks in the workshop are a sign of the success of her work, which is stocked by prestigious brands like Heals, the British Museum and the Courtauld Institute.
However, as with many artists the road to success hasn’t been straightforward. Mia never formally studied art. Instead she did a degree in Maths and Philosophy at Birmingham University. She is largely self-taught and started her artisan career as a painter at a Delftware studio. She still remains influenced by Delftware, which is not only evident in her blue and white decoration, but also in the quirkiness and humour characterising many of her designs.
After spending a few years painting Delftware, Mia decided she wanted to be in charge of creating the whole product and moved on to learn pottery under the mentorship of local artists. It is evident that as a painter Mia has a different perspective on pottery than most of her fellow artists. Her focus is very much on applying the traditional painting skills, such as good tonal scale, brushwork and composition to her ceramic artwork.
“I paint a lot with oil and canvas and when you bring that into a ceramic environment – especially on hollowware where you lose the edges and end up with lots of different views and angles – it creates a completely new challenge”, explains Mia. In November last year the Courtauld Institute recognised her unique approach to pottery painting and invited her to create a series of pieces around the theme of movement for their Rodin exhibition.
“The Rodin commission has given me some more ideas for using figurines in future ranges”, says Mia. And this is another characteristic of her work. As an artist Mia is happy to experiment and is open to new influences. Yes, a lot of her inspiration comes from nature and wildlife, but commissions and travel can also be a source for new ideas. This year she is looking forward to a trip to the Republic of Congo. “Each year I try to decide where to take my designs and this year I think the trip to Congo will be a great inspiration”, she says.
The big turning point for her business was her first exhibition at Top Drawer Craft in 2015, where she first met Heals, who were immediately intrigued by her unique artwork. “To start with I found that trade shows didn’t work for me”, she explains. “I changed my mind when I first went to Top Drawer Craft. It was really useful to have that focus for buyers with a dedicated area for high-quality hand-made products. It meant that many people visiting my stand were passionate about crafts.” Well, there’s not much we can add to this wonderful endorsement…
Heals remain an important client for Mia: “They are fantastic to work with. My ranges seem to be selling well and they do lots of events, like the upcoming London Craft Week where I will be involved again.” Last Christmas Heals launched a “Cat Charity Auction” for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and invited Mia to contribute together with Orla Kiely and other renowned artists.
If you want to meet Mia Sarosi and see her latest designs, mark this in your diary: Top Drawer, Olympia London, 14-16 January 2018.