With the arrival of spring, we all want colors, dreams and inspiration. It is with these ideas in mind that Luz Editions joined forces with Cécile Mestelan for a collaboration.
Handcrafted in Portugal, this limited edition of pretty plates with soft lines and a poetic universe of words completes our range of articles with a story to tell.
On the occasion of the launch of this collection, we asked Cécile to tell us about her link to ceramics and to Portugal where she lives and works.
The first time I met Cécile, it was for an interview for Lisbon by Light. At that time, she was at a different place in her life sharing her studio with other ceramists or students. Now, almost three years later, she has defied the times and bet on a space of her own where she feels more challenged than ever.
Cécile, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Cécile Mestelan, I'm French from Biarritz and I live in Portugal since 2014 for the love of ceramics and for the love in my life.
Do you remember the moment when you first thought of picking up this craft?
It sounds a bit romantic and cliché, but “life” brought it to me. I had never really thought of it. While attending ECAL for my masters, I met a Portuguese student (who I am now married to and I have three children with), who introduced me to ceramics by inviting me to apply for the residency at Vista Alegre.
How did you experience this residence? What have you learned ?
I completed a 3-month residency program at Vista Alegre, Portugal’s prestigious and historic porcelain brand, which has focused on handmade craftsmanship since 1824. I worked in the modelling department with four highly-skilled artisans. I acquired a range of valuable skills, especially for techniques in mould making.
Why did you choose ceramics?
As soon as I started working with clay I loved the feeling, the endless possibilities of it. The freedom to bring shapes to life with my hands, and yet at the same time clay is not so easy to handle. It’s a continuous challenge and I love this aspect. It’s hard, not an easy and predictable craft, but you can learn so much from the process. In general, I’m very impatient to achieve things, when I start it has to be done as soon as possible. With ceramics, I've learned that this is impossible. The waiting time to open the kiln while it’s firing can be hard to sit with, but the anticipation and curiosity it brings are rewarding. We have almost everything immediately nowadays so the process teaches me to value patience.
In what way is your craft linked to Portugal?
Portugal is very well-known for ceramics, we are surrounded by them throughout the city! There are many small, local artisans and shops featuring different styles, both traditional and contemporary. And we have ceramic tiles nearly everywhere in the architecture! These tiles are known as “azulejos”. Many historic and newer buildings use the tiles to tell a particular story by painting scenes on them. You will find tiles on the exterior and interior of all kinds of buildings, from public service buildings to churches and restaurants, and even in the parks.
Here in Portugal, there is a long history of producing ceramics on an industrial scale for many other countries in Europe. The economy of one village can be supported just by producing ceramics. From what I have read, no other country has used ceramic tiles as extensively and consistently as Portugal.
What attracted you to this collaboration?
First of all, I was flattered to have been asked for this project. Then, the freedom that was given to me in the choice of shapes and colors with the only prescription being the use of words and expressions.
If you had to choose a plate from the collection, which one would it be?
I will choose Sonhar Sempre because I like the idea of having a blank page - in this case a white plate - that you have to fill by projecting yourself into the future even if lately it seems difficult. A certain idea of dream and freedom without barriers or limits.