Sophie Papiazan, local ceramic artist

French artist Sophie Papazian graduated at the National School of Fine Arts Lyon in 1987 and pursued a career as a painter. In 2007 she discovered ceramics, and completed her studies at the School of Ceramics in Provence. Since then, she has been creating unique, artistic ceramic pieces.

Sophie’s methodology includes working the clay into her desired shape, and then she makes decorative impressions on it using natural objects. Inspired by nature, Sophie likes to pick leaves, flowers and other vegetation early in the morning. Her artwork is a seasonal expression of life in Provence.

She uses a roller to gently create an impression on the clay. Afterwards she decorates the ceramic using liquid pigments or ‘engobe’. Engobe is a white or coloured clay slip coating that gives ceramic bodies a decorative colour or improved texture. The ceramics get placed in a kiln heated to between 900 and 1000°C. The biscuit, as it’s called after the first firing, then gets enamelled and placed into the kiln again, this time at 1260°C.

In Sophie’s words, “My ceramic art remains that of a painter in search of textures and colours that get emphasised or faded. Opening the kiln door provokes emotions of joy, surprise and sometimes disappointment that pass into the fire. Along with the earth, water and air (during the drying cycle) my ceramic practice is in alignment with the elements; the arid landscapes of Provence inspire me, the art pieces appear like fossils to surprise us.”

Judging by the popularity of Sophie’s artwork among the many visitors in the Mirabeau boutique, we can confirm she’s onto a winner. Many pieces of functional art have found new homes around the world. Which one would you choose?