Island Style: Handmade Modernism
You can’t help but be enchanted by Jamaican ceramicist Victoria Silvera’s sea urchin collection. Delicate yet eye-catching and seamlessly combining function and form, the handmade tableware and decorative pieces are must-have souvenirs, whether you’re a serious art collector or simply an enthusiastic shopper. Silvera’s work is sold in select shops all over Jamaica and online. But before you swipe your credit card (and, trust us, you will!), here’s what you should know about the woman behind the work.
Victoria Silvera: Her Start With Art
I grew up in Jamaica, and even though I excelled in art in high school I was discouraged from pursuing it as a CXC [high school exam] subject. But left up to my own devices at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, I finally immersed myself in my sophomore year, taking all my art electives. I realized I had an affinity for combining political subject matter, detailed processes, and clay. And the rest is “her-story.”
Steeped in Nature
When I returned home to Jamaica, I became immersed in nature. So I’ve incorporated sea urchins, sand dollars, starfish, and coral references into The Urchin Collection. That’s my childhood, and these objects always call happy memories to mind. Then there’s the teapot. In my first pottery class I had to make 10 of them. And I find myself going back to the teapot whenever I need to jumpstart my work because the comfort of an old process often leads to something new. I’m also deeply inspired by our connection to our ancestors and Spirit. I believe art can bring us closer to them.
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The Creative Process
I usually start with an object I find on the beach, or look for a nature reference online. Then I draw patterns and apply them to a range of crockery and sculpture ideas. Sometimes I’ll sleep on my sketches for a year. Sometimes I just launch into production and within a month I could have an entire new series of work! Recently I’ve been inspired by spiritual concepts such as chakras, stones, and sacred symbols, which I’ll be incorporating into my first local exhibition later this year.
The Urge for Urchins
As a child, I’d collect urchin skeletons and line them up on my windowsill. Then, as a budding artist, I found I had an attention to detail and pattern in my work, and I decided ….