Q&A: Louise Madzia

We’ll always happily find an excuse to litter our homes with plants, and we think we’ve finally found the perfect pots to pair them with. Louise Madzia is a designer and maker based in Buckinghamshire, which is also home to her collection of playful hand-painted ceramics. In all different shapes, sizes and designs, Louise carefully decorates her pots with painted line drawings of bodies, hands, peace-signs, cigarettes and faces - all with a good dose of humour to simple but powerful effect.

We’re completely won over by Louise’s quirky ceramics and are already trying (and failing) to pick our favourite designs. We took some time to catch up with this up-and-comer about Picasso, pots and emojis…

Where did you study and how did you first get into drawing and ceramics?

I studied Illustration at Kingston so most of the projects I worked on were based around drawing. At that time I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, my work was very hit and miss! I eventually started going to a weekly ceramics evening class near Kingston in my last year on a whim. I started to paint my own designs free-hand onto bowls and plates. I ended up making bowls in the ceramics workshop at Kingston for my final project and have worked in the medium ever since.

Where do you get inspiration for the designs you paint on the ceramics? We can spot that some of them are referencing emojis!

I look everywhere, in real life at exhibitions and online by trawling through Instagram, I like that balance between high and low culture. I try not to get too overwhelmed by other imagery though, and I don’t really draw from reference. Elements of paintings, fashion and films inspire me to make work.

I started making the emoji espresso cups about a year ago and they’ve become a best seller! My friend Joe Mortimer designed my branding and at the exact same time designed my logo with the peace sign and other hand emojis. I just love the tactile nature of them and the laziness of communicating with them too.

What important part does a sense of humour play in your work?

It’s really important to the work, because that’s how I see things. That sense of playfulness is what I’m striving for, it’s like a relief. If I laugh at a drawing I’m working on I know I should pursue it and when I show the pots to friends it’s great to get that reaction. That’s how the Darth Vader pots originated; if people aren’t into the other work they’re usually into Darth in a big way. The designs can also be on the edge though; there is sadness and other stuff there too.

Can you see your designs venturing into different forms? I.e. fabrics, wallpaper etc.

I would love to do that and have been thinking about it for a while. It’s just finding the time and doing it in a way that’s right for me. There’s definitely potential to expand on the designs, it would be cool to resolve that by designing a fabric or garment. I’ve always wanted to design clothes, we’ll see!

Your designs are mainly based around the human (and mostly female) body. Why is this?

I’m not sure I’ve just always been drawn to figurative sculpture and paintings. My earliest inspirations were really classic figurative artists like Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Edvard Munch, Emil Nolde and Picasso. It feels natural to draw this way and I think it suits the shapes that I work in.

Check out more of Louise’s work here and find her pieces round the corner from Glasshouse at Grace & Thorn on Hackney Road!

Words: Lucy Vincent
Images: Louise Madzia

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