In Conversation with Sculptor Merete Rasmussen, Pangolin Gallery, London

Pangolin London presents Merete Rasmussen: Bronze and Ceramic, the artist’s first solo show with the gallery. Known for her signature abstract ceramics, this exhibition explores a new departure for Rasmussen in the form of bronze works, thanks to a collaboration with Pangolin Editions. This unique alliance has not only enabled Rasmussen to break free from the confines of the kiln but excitingly, allows her work to be shown outdoors in a natural or urban environment, a concept she has always been keen to explore. The artist was born in Copenhagen and brought up in Sweden. Returning to Denmark to study at the Designskolen Kolding, she was inspired by the iconic designs of her fellow Danes, Arne Jacobsen and Verner Panton. We speak to the sculptor.

A: What interests you about working with ceramics? What initially compelled you to use this medium?
MR: I find clay a fantastic and versatile material; it comes with an endless variety of form and surface expressions. It gives me the possibility to create a shape I have in mind, and by building it step by step, adding clay, cutting away clay, and scraping the surface into a smooth curved shape, I can create fluid forms. The material itself is appealing to work with for its physicality – it is very hands on. I tried ceramics as a young child and despite trying other creative expressions, I was always drawn back to ceramics.

A: How important do you believe the relationship is between abstract sculpture and the space that surrounds it?
MR: In relation to my own work – I work with positive and negative space, meaning the space in between is as important as the physical mass itself. I make my sculptures with the idea of them being viewed from different angles to understand the form, therefore it makes a difference where and how the piece is placed, also in relation to any other physical object. If a sculpture is made for a specific site the surrounding environment is of course taken much more into account.

A: You were born in Denmark and raised in Sweden, how has your upbringing influenced your artistic practice?
MR: I grew up in a beautiful calm part of southern Sweden, with open landscapes and the sea nearby. Nature was initially my inspiration when I started with ceramics, but I became increasingly interested in abstract form itself. I believe design and architecture in my surroundings also had its impact; light and space is important in my work.

A: Your work varies widely in terms of scale, colour and shape. Would you say your approach to creating work is a pre-planned process or is it purely spontaneous?
MR: I have a quite specific idea about what form I want to make from the start and make small models beforehand, also sketched in clay. When I work on larger pieces it is much more technically challenging and it is necessary to plan the way to make it beforehand. As I create the form, the idea of its colour intuitively becomes clearer.

Merete Rasmussen: Bronze and Ceramic, until 16 January, Pangolin London, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG.

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1. Merete Rasmussen, Blue Loop, 2015. Ceramic with a coloured slip. Courtesy of Pangolin London.