By Louise Hunter
A British Artist Abroad | Alexandra Breeze – Ceramic Artist
If, like me, you don’t give yourself time to visit smaller exhibitions and galleries around Amsterdam, you can easily miss out. Some of you though might have visited the recent Cultural Transition Exhibition in the Art’otel, By chance I had seen a notice about it and called in to take a look. The exhibition showcased the recent work of, amongst others, Alexandra Breeze, a British born ceramic artist who currently lives and works in Holland.
Alex studied Ceramics & Printmaking at the University of Wolverhampton before moving to Leiden in 1999. A qualified teacher of Art & Design she divides her time between her family; her studio and her work in an international school. Back then, with a young family, she had little opportunity to develop her love of ceramics but always wanted to create her own work. A move to a smaller town, and into a house with a spare room big enough to become a small studio, finally gave her the chance to try out some of the ceramic techniques she had learnt.
The Amsterdam Canal Houses – an idea that developed from small clay gifts she had made for her students – her collection of iconic Amsterdam canal houses is proving popular with tourists and expats. She explained “this is a series of imprinted porcelain tiles, each one individually designed, with details carefully pressed into the clay, often using everyday objects to create their unique character”.
“The process starts by photographing the houses and buildings I’m interested in. The designs are committed to paper and the clay templates carefully cut out. I found I was really enjoying my art again.”
It’s clear that Alex was very pleased with the positive responses she received for her work and this encouraged her to develop her ideas further.
My personal favourite from the exhibition is a piece where the fragile clay tiles look as if they are held together with fine wire. Much of her work reflects and is influenced by the natural and man-made environments of Holland but, which artists have inspired her and influenced her work? “Different artists have inspired me at different times in my life, such as Alberto Giacometti and MC Escher. However, when I was still at school I was inspired to work in 3D after visiting an exhibition that included the work of Barbara Hepworth, which I suppose had quite an impact on the character of my work that I was to produce for years to come. I have a number of favourite artists and I like them all for different reasons, but Marc Chagall stands out for being a favourite at the moment. I love the detail and storytelling within his somewhat surreal paintings.”
She begins to explain the next phase of her work, an exciting natural progression of her current projects. “I’m working on an idea to create 3D ceramic and glass pieces, perhaps incorporating lighting. I’m looking for further opportunities to exhibit. Of course, I’m always happy to take on commissions, but I really hope to be able to spend more time on my art, to develop my ideas further and experiment.” It’s obvious that Alex is not short of ideas for the next stage of her artistic career, and I can’t help but smile and agree as I’m caught up in her contagious enthusiasm.
As a final question I ask her if there is a piece of ceramic art that she wished she had created? “The Casa BatIló in Barcelona! I love the work of the architect Antoni Gaudí and in my opinion Casa Batlló is an example of artistic genius. His work has strong references to nature and natural forms and he used colour in a way I could only dream of. I would love to be able to see the world though his eyes. Whenever I’m in Barcelona I often spend hours exploring either Casa Batlló, or other Gaudi structures. I never tire of looking at and exploring his work and I always discover something new. (Ok not strictly a piece of ceramic art but there is plenty of ceramic used to create the building).”
So, my casual visit to the Art’otel in Amsterdam gave me the opportunity to meet Alex and learn about her beautiful artwork. I’m glad I took the time to stop when I could so easily have walked on by and missed out.
In the coming months she will be exhibiting at restaurant Blauw aan de Wal in Amsterdam.Facebook
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