“It is very difficult to have a firm definition of what things are: useful or useless, art or crafts. We are interested in this dissolution of concepts”, tell us Claudia Cid and Elsa Pinto from Lugalbanda Ceramics. The Portuguese duo met while studying, and it didn’t take long before they knew they shared the same interests in art, craft and design. Currently working in-between the practical and the beautiful, their colourful, artisanal ceramics are a way to keep traditions alive, update them from a modern-day perspective, and enjoy being together while being creative.
Claudia, Elsa, how was your first encounter like? How and when did you meet?
We met in 2015 in Lisbon at the Master’s degree in Painting we were both doing. Meanwhile, we started to share the same atelier, where each of us developed our individual art practices. This was a place of dialogue where we found out we had the same doubts and interests.
You founded Lugalbanda Ceramics in 2018. What sparked the idea and how has it evolved over time?
Our shared questions about the relations and boundaries between art and life, between the artistic and the useful object, between the roles of the artist and the artisan, and our concern about the commodification of life, time and art, led us to create a practical project where we could explore all these ideas. We started selling the pieces in markets and shops and, as the project evolved, we also began showing work in more experimental ways. Recently, we participated in a circuit of performances called Hors-Lits.
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You say your practice finds itself “between useless and useful”. How do you find that midpoint?
We think that it is very difficult to have a firm definition of what things are: useful or useless, art or crafts. We are interested in this dissolution of concepts, which we think keeps alive the strangeness and beauty of life and its objects. Maybe the middle point is this questioning state. One way of translating this into practice is the way we relate to our creation: we do a research of the original form and use of each piece, trying to make objects out of their obviousness and, simultaneously, we approach the creation as an experimental process, never repeating each piece.
In an increasingly digital world, your practice defies the screen-dominated world and keeps an artisanal tradition, a rich craftsmanship, alive. How did you become familiar with ceramics in the first place?
We think it is important to find a balance between what is to come and the memories we want to keep alive. Crafts are a manual and slow way of working that joins generations and contradicts the fast pace of our contemporary lives. We always felt attracted to many techniques: carpentry, ceramics, blown glass, textile… While thinking about creating a project together, it became clear we needed to focus on one of them, and we chose ceramics to start. We learned it in Fica, a creative workshop in LxFactory where various crafts are taught.
Your pieces are warm, playful, minimalist yet full of details. What is your creative process like?
Each of us builds different pieces and paints them regardless of who made them. Recently, we started to melt even more the process by building and painting together the same piece. Although there are differences in each way of working, our styles mix and feed each other. A key element of this process is being surprised by ourselves and by the oven!
“Crafts are a manual and slow way of working that joins generations and contradicts the fast pace of our contemporary lives.”
Is Lugalbanda Ceramics your full-time occupation, or do you work on other projects/ fields?
Apart from Lugalbanda, each of us has a part-time job and we also develop our individual art practices.
You’re based in Lisbon, a city that’s flourishing. How is it to live there as an artist like? Could you tell us a couple of spots we shouldn’t miss next time we visit?
To live here as a young artist is quite complicated: struggle with precarious jobs, high rents and very rare art fundings. Even though gentrification is transforming Lisbon, there are still many beautiful things to enjoy in this city: have a picnic in Jardim da Estrela, find a book in Feira da Ladra or have a coffee at Miradouro da Graça.
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Your pieces could be sold at either art galleries or concept stores. Where can we find them?
You can contact us directly via Instagram or e-mail, and you can also find our pieces in Lisbon at Bird on a Wire and in Porto at Senhora Presidenta, A Luz Natural and Ó Cerâmica gallery.
Also, how do you expect the project to evolve and grow? Any plans for the upcoming months?
First of all, we want to continue learning ceramic so we can explore even more. Hopefully, in the future, we will learn other crafts and expand our project. We also want to invest more time writing and sharing our theoretical reflections. But, mainly, we would like this baby to continue growing as healthy as it was during its first year!
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