At Sea - series of works
Ceramicist Laura Pehkonen
Created by the ceramicist Laura Pehkonen, the series of works “Merellä” (at sea) is a viewable and touchable abstract ceramic wall relief. Located on the walls of the 4th through to 6th floors of the H Building of the Vaasa Central Hospital, the work is a collage composed of several parts made out of unique, hand-made ceramic pieces.
In her works, Laura Pehkonen combines materials and techniques from various time periods and cultures
I am a ceramicist and visual artist living in Helsinki. My main material is ceramics, but I also work with wood and mixed-technique painting. Currently, my work is focused on creating unique art works, such as murals and sculptures. Over the last few years, I have created series of ceramic works to various public spaces. I like to combine materials and techniques from various time periods and cultures.
Making the series of works “At Sea”
“At sea” is inspired by the visual appearance of an archipelago on a map and the seamarks used for navigation. The ceramic pieces of the work create islands, islets and archipelagos of various sizes and shapes onto the walls. I was also inspired by the graphical shapes of seamarks and nautical charts, which I also used in the work. The works on each of the different floors have slightly different colour ranges: the 4th floor has the most blue hues, the 5th floor uses different shades of green and the 6th floor emphasises light hues.
I began the work by studying nautical charts and seamarks of the Vaasa region at the library, identifying interesting shapes and patterns, which I recorded in a notebook. Then, I first cut paper models of various sizes and laid them out on the wall of my workspace. I used the paper cut-outs to explore different shapes and sizes, which I then started to make out of clay.
I spent a total of over four months during spring 2022 making pieces of the work at my workspace. I also had a trainee participate in the project, which helped a great deal. The various phases, such as drying and firing provided the work with rhythm. I kept getting new ideas while working, which kept the work in progressing. Finally, I laid out the sets of pieces to be used for the various floors on the floor of my workspace and then transported the pieces to Vaasa. I did still make some alterations as I attached the pieces to the wall, to ensure that the work had good rhythm and that it was well balanced.
Photo: Sami Pulkkinen
I created a variety of different shapes, surfaces, textures and patterns for the work, which produce diverse layouts on the wall surface. This is important, because I want the work to be accessible both visually and by touch: the various shapes, coarseness, smoothness and surface texture of the ceramic pieces are an important part of the work and the way it can experienced. Some pieces resemble rocks on a beach, smoothened by the sea, while the surface of other pieces resembles seaweed or a fishing net. I also put a lot if thought into the colours used in the work and the way they are used together.
I appreciate getting to work with public spaces. It is an honour to have my work be somewhere where it is experienced by people of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds. I often think about this while working and I like the idea that a work such as this, composed of a variety of different pieces, is equitable towards everyone who experiences it, as it allows all interpretations, while still inspiring personal images and stream of consciousness in each person.
In this environment I hope my work can take people’s thoughts away from the hospital. I hope that it can provide a moment of joy and wonder in the minds of people passing by in the corridor, taking their thoughts away from the conditions surrounding them for a short moment.