Pushing the limits of clay

At The Ode To we’re always curious to learn more about creativity and artistry, so we asked Swedish artist Johanna Nilsson to tell us a little bit about her life, her art and her sources of inspiration.

What do you call your series of artworks?

– My artworks are made using coiling and carving-techniques, and the series of artworks I have created for The Ode To is called Carved.

What inspired you to create these pieces?

– When I started with the Carved-series, I wanted to explore the clay's abilities while coiling, and how to create an interesting surface without using glaze. I was curious to know how texture can work with shape, without disturbing or dragging too much attention from it. When you coil, you can make more extreme shapes than when you are throwing—because you can wait for the clay to dry in between the coils. That makes it steadier and prevents the clay from collapsing. Therefore, I wanted to explore organic shapes that push the clay's nature to the extreme.

Can you tell us about your background and how you came to be an artist?

– Since forever, I have enjoyed drawing and creating. 10 years ago, I studied a BFA in design. Shape was fun, but drawing designs wasn’t what I craved to do—I wanted to create the actual 3D shape myself. So, a few years ago I attended an evening course in ceramics and then I was stuck. I realized that clay is—and will probably always be—challenging and time consuming to learn, so I quitted my job and studied ceramics at Capellagården and Leksand folkhögskola. It was the best decision of my life. The step from a thought to an actual 3D product is fast and I think that’s what I love the most about it.

What other artists do you admire?

– I must say Ursula Nistrup, who creates pure magic sculptures out of flying textiles. They're the most beautiful pieces I have ever seen.

How would you describe your art and aesthetics in three words?

– Calm, Clean, Organic.

What we love about Johanna Nilsson:

The combination of great craftsmanship and an understated expression that lets the details do the talking? That speaks right to our hearts.