Eric Block 

AnnaLeaClelia Tunesi on ‘Archaeology Goes Pop’

In her latest exhibition ‘Archaeology Goes Pop’, Italian ceramicist AnnaLeaClelia Tunesi’s vivid pots stand out for the way they bring together both brightly coloured modernity, and her ancient, yet experimental style of creating them. Opening at 508 Gallery, Kings Road on the 20 September, I had the chance to talk to AnnaLeaClelia a little more about her pottery, and her dramatic career change.

This is your second collaboration with Althea Wilson. How did the two of you meet, and what made you decide to work together?

A friend of Althea spotted me in a craft market several years ago. The lovely Lavinia suggested that I should meet Althea who certainly would have been interested to photograph my pots. So, I packed a cab with pots and headed over to Althea’s studio. The moment we met we found so many common interests and we started to collaborate without even thinking about it. 

We meet weekly and have supper together. We chat about art, dogs and cooking. She is the Queen of Kedgeree, I am the Queen of spaghetti aio & oio (garlic and olive oil).

Your pottery technique isn’t the modern wheel-thrown style that most people think of when talking about pottery. What inspired you to try this technique?

Wheel thrown, coiling and pinching are all ancient techniques. I often mix throwing and coiling. Coiling is my favourite because it gives me the opportunity to make sudden changes and offers more freedom in the creation of sculptural shapes.

Your work brings together ancient pottery and modern pop art: what was it that drew you to this combination?

 The series Contemporary Archaeology was initially inspired by a passion for fragments. I wanted with Contemporary Archaeology to relive the past with a contemporary kick. With Contemporary Archaeology goes Pop I have combined historical inspiration with a psychedelic effect. Often shapes determine the final colours, whereas in this case the choice of the pink determines the shapes.

I have always liked the use of colours in American Pop Art; bright playful colours used as powerful instruments of criticism of their time. 

Your work as a ceramicist comes after working in television for eighteen years. How did you find the career change?

I began pottery in 2000 when I first came to live in the UK and kept it as a hobby. One day on my way to work I had a spectacular car crash. I survived but it took me a long time to recover. I was unable to work and even to pot so I decided to go back to school.

I have completed an MA in History of Business and Collecting Art at IESA and Warwick University, enthusiastically followed by a PhD in Museology at University of Leeds. These years of study have been fundamental for my inspiration and manual creativity. Naturally some 10 years ago I went back to pottery which has now become my only activity. Sudden, traumatic changes can lead to new redefinition of yourself.

Were there specific ceramicists who drew you to working and experimenting with pottery?

There are many wonderful inspiring potters! I shall mention two dead ones so they will not quarrel. George Edgar Ohr, American, (1857- 1918) and Leoncillo Leonardi, Italian, (1915-1968). Both advocated extreme freedom and modernity long before their time. Their creation of shapes and colour in relation to space are for me a constant lesson.

‘Contemporary Archaeology Goes Pop | Paradise Preserved’ opens on the 20 September at the 508 Gallery, 508 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 0LD and runs until the 30 September.

To find out more about AnnaLeaClelia’s upcoming exhibition, click here.

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