definition: to light up, to extinguish
In 2022, I undertook an artist's residency for diaspora at Varem Marem art studio in Gyumri, Armenia's arts and crafts capital. As the studio's painter, I designed patterns and illustrations for ceramics that are heavily influenced by traditional Armenian miniatures and illuminated manuscripts.
Tradition and Colour
The owners of Varem Marem art studio - Mika, Tigran and Albert - have combined their innovative artistic visions with a lasting love of clay in order to restore and revive many of the distinctive pottery traditions from the Armenian highlands. My task was to study the tradition of manuscript illumination in order to create designs that would honour the past but were also vibrant and contemporary in their use of colour.
Ceramic Teapot - Birds Eye View
Symbols and Meanings
Each of my designs held a symbolic meaning that was relevant to the Gyumretsi people, and I used masterclasses which I ran for young budding artists at the studio as an opportunity to learn more about these meanings and traditions. The bird is an icon of migration and endurance. The "groung" (crane) was made famous by the musician Komitas in the late 19th century. The bird commemorates the migration of the Armenian people in the marches across the Syrian desert following the Genocide.
Ceramic Plate - կռունկ
Rebuilding Artistic Heritage
The artists at Varem Marem apply the traditional approaches of clay processing and production of household utensils still observed in the neighbouring villages and combine them with modern trends and methods.
Ceramic Teapot in Progress
Skillsharing is an important custom in Armenia, and for every session I gave I would be remunerated in another masterclass. I learnt bookbinding, Khatchkar carving, jewellry making and sculpting, usually over a cup of Eastern coffee.
Albert in the Studio