Tiziana Schembri – Ceramicist
Stoneware plate with sculptures borderSource:
Tiziana Schembri is a Maltese ceramicist, soon to be based in Talinn, Estonia
When and how did you get started?
I’ve been hooked on working with clay ever since I was 11. I had attended lessons by Anna Ciavola and was immediately drawn to the versatile nature of clay.
I am mostly self-taught. The majority of my research into glazing and throwing methods comes from books and online videos. A recent throwing course I attended at La Meridiana Ceramic School in Italy has enabled me to cultivate my technique on throwing larger forms.
Recently, I took time off work and spent three months in Tallinn, Estonia, working at Asuurkeraamika. There I met six contemporary Estonian artists and learnt a lot from being there with them throughout the week.
What genre do you consider your work to be?
My work is a mixture of modern and historical pottery. I tend to blend the styles together. I hope people look at some pieces and feel they have seen the form in a museum somewhere. I am heavily influenced by Japanese and Korean forms.
Describe your work in 10 words or less.
Wheel-thrown functional ceramics inspired by historical pottery.
Where was your first exhibition held?
Whilst living in Edinburgh, I rented a ceramic studio at St Margaret’s Arts complex. Together with five other ceramicists we organised and held our own ceramics exhibition which was based on coastal and sea themes. I was in my own element, having grown up in Malta and spent most summers by the beach. A lot of my pieces were wheel-thrown vessels, but they had sculptural forms added to them that were similar to crustacean life.
Do you have a favourite from among your own artworks? If so, why?
A small chawan cup which I threw under the guidance of another ceramicist called Cliff Glover. He introduced me to the method of cutting away slabs of clay from a wheel-thrown cup to create a faceted style. I am inspired by his work. It is a simple form but it makes you want to pick it up and handle it. I love that about ceramics. They should be touched, handled, and admired.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on a set of fermenting jars and serving bowls for an exhibition at Espacio Gallery in London.
I am also developing a set of tableware for a Maltese restaurant and a London-based restaurant.
Which artist’s work are you most inspired by?
Lucie Rie. Her forms and glazes are exquisite.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
A food blogger…but my grammar would have to improve substantially, and I am too focused on the eating part.
What is the epitome of happiness for you?
Sitting at the wheel and throwing with some good music in the background.
What do you love about Malta?
Days by the sea.
What do you hate about Malta?
Hate is a strong word… I am disappointed that certain areas of the island have become so over-developed. We have a lot of talented architects, I am sure, and it pains me to look at the structures that are being built at the moment. There seems to be no logic to some of them, or beauty.
Favourite colour and what it means to you?
Red. To me it symbolises a challenge as it is one of the harder glaze tones to master.
What is your favourite indulgence?
Coffee and dark chocolate…together
Paula has a pedigree in TV and stage production (children's and family entertainment) and a passion for the arts. She's taken the reins on The Artists' Directory - Malta and the relevant content for the site.