Sun | Oct 22, 2017

Sea urchin-inspired Touch By VLS

Published:Sunday | January 11, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer

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