About Desa

After working for many years as an art historian and writer, I retrained as a product designer and when I came across clay, it was love at first touch. Initially I made functional pots and groups of bottles and vases in porcelain. More recently I have moved away from functional ceramics and in 2019 I started studying for an MA (Ceramics and Glass) at the Royal College of Art.

Wall sculptures from the series Reflections take as their point of departure the ever - changing play of light and dark, and reflections of buildings and graffiti on London's Regents Canal. For years now I have photographed reflections on the canal, the movement of the water, the way the surface inverts and distorts images, stuff floating, or drifting just below the surface… There is rich metaphoric potential in the continuity of change that is so evident here and in the solidity of the canal as a built structure and waterway through the city that carries the most ephemeral images on its watery surface.

Of all the different clays porcelain is perhaps the best suited to suggest movement and flow. Its smooth surface and softness to the touch make it a pleasure to handle and to throw on the wheel. During firing, however, it turns into one of the hardest and most durable ceramic materials. The wall pieces are assembled from individual elements that are thrown on the wheel and altered. Open forms are placed on closed shapes in such a way that they move and distort during the firing, thereby integrating the two layers into a dynamic whole. Except for the all white pieces, each sculpture is glazed in order to create a contrast with the unglazed, matt white edges of the porcelain.

Second Nature is the collective title of a group of recent pieces, which explore the merging of the natural world with the human-made. Processes of erosion and weathering act equally on natural and cultural objects by increasing the objects' visual complexity over time and often with unpredictable outcomes. By analogy, the same may be said for the more experimental approaches to making and firing ceramics. In these pieces I have worked with very dark, iron rich stoneware clays and highly textured surfaces. All my work is fired to cone 9 in an electric kiln.

Desa Philippi

Desa Philippi