Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Touch By VLS inspired by the sea urchin

Published:Sunday | January 11, 2015 | 12:00 AMKeisha Hill ï Gleaner Writer
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It's easy to see why Victoria Silvera's gorgeous ceramic collections have become a hit with many persons since her creative designs began making their way into the homes and hearts of many art enthusiasts. These one-of-a-kind handmade pieces are a collector's dream intricately designed, utilising the complex perimeters of the sea urchin begging to be felt and appreciated up close.

Silvera's signature statement Touch By VLS is her brainchild, coined from her own ingenuity to create intricate and beautiful ceramic work. She started with a borrowed wheel and a few bags of clay. After her long hiatus from ceramics, her first teapots seemed clumsy and non-functional; however, she embraced the process of relearning and threw herself into her practice.

After graduating from Swarthmore College in the United States where she studied film, Silvera said she got lost in the job market and her natural route seemed to be starting a business from the things she knew she could do. "I do have a love for teapots. I actually started to create a teapot and it looked like a sea urchin. I made three of them and before I knew it, I had started a business," Silvera said.

Touch by VLS teapots are inspired by the minimalism of Japanese potters; however, the colours and forms are quite contemporary. They are created using abstract patterns akin to the glazed surfaces of raku and wood firings but bright glazes are used.

Today, she churns out more than 100 pieces a week. They are beautiful and well-crafted experimental pieces, boasting a cavalier attitude to carving and natural law, as well as a predilection for spikes and the exoskeleton of the sea urchin.

Out of this concept was born Touch By VLS and her first cohesive series, The Sea Urchin Collection, that combines innovative work that reflects their past, alludes to their future, and captures the global spirit of an age.

"I lived at a family-built property called Stony Hill Hotel, a swanky Jamaican hotel filled with tiled mosaics, Picasso reproductions, kitsch, large ceramic pieces and figurative lamps. Every object was timeless and expressive in their own environment. This was my biggest influence that pushed me to do something unique and stylish with a sense of vision and style, that was appealing and highlighted my way of life," Silvera said.

The Urchin collection is an intimate assortment of teapots, pendant, light mobiles and decorative ceramics inspired by the sea egg. She classifies her collection as functional, beautiful, modern and minimalistic. "Each piece is wheel-thrown or slip-cast and hand-decorated; taking pride in the ritual process and old-school artistry," Silvera said.

Silvera has also enveloped the Eggungun collection, a series of cast sculptures in progress. The pieces reference the master plaster reproductions of New York-based Art Deco artist Rima. "Her decorative sculptures were converted into lamps and many of them found their way to Stony Hill in the late 1950s. These reworked pieces are simple, matte black and postmodern aesthetic form," Silvera said.

With the use of varied glazing and surface decorations, the sculptures attain an individuality that may range from primitive to futuristic. They display tribal markings and are tempered by organic patterns such as coral. Some are completely bare, while others are decorated with lustre and crystalline glazes.

Silvera also sells contemporary ceramics giftware, crockery and lighting. Each piece is handcrafted in Jamaica and features detailed carving and surface decoration with slip.

Touch By VLS has the potential for massive growth and Silvera is planning to build a high-end flagship store in Jamaica, providing employment and creating new and innovative ways of showcasing Jamaica's art and natural history. This will be done by licensing local artists' work and translating them to ceramics and other mediums.

She is also in the process of setting up an e-commerce website and distribution lines in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Touch By VLS is currently retailing at 17 Hibiscus Drive in Barbican and at the HiQo Art Gallery on Waterloo Road. Discussions are also in the pipeline to host the collection at KerryManWomanHome on South Avenue.

To see some of her work visit www.facebook/touchbyvls or www.touchbyvls.com.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com