In the studio: Enrico Donadello

“. . . volcanic surfaces
and morbid sandy tones.”

Ceramicist Enrico Donadello presents a body of work at The Front Room, Melbourne, that is unique and unexpected, with fluid lines, irresistible tactility, and earthly tones. With each piece hand-crafted and decorated, the following interview provides insight into the artist’s creative process.

Could you describe your artistic journey and how you became involved in ceramic art?
I have always been interested in arts and handcrafting. For years, my main tool for work was a laptop and I was longing to get back to creating things with my own hands. The lockdown in 2020 turned out to be the perfect opportunity. All of a sudden, my calendar was free. I had a very basic knowledge of ceramics, but I had plenty of time to try things out, explore and get insights from artists whose work I admired.

What is your creative process like when working with ceramics, from concept to finished piece?
The process is never the same, even though some pieces need a very specific preparation before making; most of the time, I just start with very loose hand drawings or a shape that I envision in my mind. As a student, I was taught to always explore ideas through drawing at first, which is great but not always very functional for someone like me who tends to overthink. That’s why I prefer not to settle too much on plans but to make decisions during the workflow.

Supplied. Courtesy the artist, and The Front Room, Melbourne

Can you provide insights into the unique qualities of the pieces you’ve created for The Front Room Gallery’s current exhibition?
I believe the works created for the gallery reflect my attempt to infuse tradition and memories into the pieces. The colours, in particular, are what brings them to a contemporary aesthetic. For this collection, we focused on dark, almost volcanic surfaces, and morbid sandy tones.

What themes or inspirations inform this body of work?
Most of the pieces’ shapes are re-elaborations of antique or rural objects stripped into the purest form and reimagined with textural, earthy surfaces.

Could you share some of the challenges and rewards you encountered while creating these specific pieces for the exhibition?
The time frame for building this collection was definitely a challenge, as we only had a few weeks before summer break and every piece is hand coiled, inch by inch. Working on the colours has been a reward. I’m pretty obsessed with it, and many finishes are the result of different shades layered on top of each other. To create an even surface but with a vibrant feel.

Supplied. Courtesy the artist, and The Front Room, Melbourne

Are there any specific pieces or collections within the current exhibition that you believe hold special significance or convey a distinct message?
A piece that holds a special place in my heart is a black sculpture on four legs, with a round bottom and flat top. It was originally conceived to celebrate someone special, and it is, to me, just in between a vase and a sculpture, an organic shape, and a designed object.

How do you hope that the audience will engage with and interpret your work at The Front Room Gallery?
I hope that the pieces can trigger a familiar and ancestral feel in the audience, but I also hope they can perceive them as unique and keep discovering new aspects to them, as the light and surroundings change.

A limited edition of unique commissioned works are now on view and available, exclusive to The Front Room, Melbourne.

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