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Marianne Huotari in Gloria Magazine


The walls are covered in transparent boxes filled with soft-hued ceramic scraps. I’m not the first one to describe the scenery as something akin to a candy store.

The ceramic studio, nestled in the old Arabia factory, belongs to artist Marianne Huotari. She is best known for her ceramic rya tapestries, which she creates by sewing ceramic pieces onto a metal frame using wire. Marianne originally graduated as a textile designer and won a tapestry design competition in 2015 with a rya — she then discovered that she could recreate textile-like structures using clay as her medium.

“I was captivated by ceramics; its hardness and lasting durability. I envisioned just how fascinating the surfaces would become when weaving shiny and matte pieces together.”

In addition to her ceramic wall rugs, Marianne creates sculptures using her self-devised technique. Many see portrayals of animals and other natural elements in them.

“My pieces are easily approachable, but they’re marked by a certain type of strangeness. They’re not directly digestible.”

The artist’s pieces grace the lobby of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, the wall of the Scandic Helsinki Hub Hotel, and an airport in Singapore. In 2022, Marianne was a finalist in the prestigious Loewe Foundation Craft Prize competition. She is currently gearing up for a solo exhibition in New York.

Creating tapestries that reach the height of several meters may sometimes take up to six months. For the artist, they often feel like calendars; Huotari recalls certain phases of her life by inspecting certain areas of the tapestry. She finds a common thread between her method and the traditional textile processes that go into rya making.

“When I start the process of working the clay into pieces, it’s almost reminiscent of shearing a lamb for wool.”

Then it’s time to weld a metal frame. Inspiration frequently strikes Marianne when she’s combining ceramic elements from past works, and her 12 hour flow states are only disrupted once the materials run out.

As the workday stretches into night, the studio becomes a viewing point for pink sunsets.

To save more time for designing, Marianne has hired assistants to support her in making the needed ceramic pieces.

“I’ve struggled a lot with how much work I can outsource to others, while still ensuring that the art is of my own making.”

Even so, Marianne’s mental landscapes remain uniquely hers.

“My worldview is optimistic, even naive. When awful things happen in the world, I want to focus on creating beauty around us.”

Original Finnish text by Ellinoora Autti
Photography by Mikko Hannula
Translated by Helmi Korhonen

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