Artists under Lockdown: Matthias Kaiser
A potter living in rural Austria.
The Design Edit (TDE): How are you keeping busy in self-isolation?
Matthias Kaiser (MK): I live in the countryside, about an hour from Vienna, and my studio is in the house. So nothing has changed, pretty much, except that things are a little slow. But I have some orders from the past that I hadn’t got around to doing, so I am doing those. And I have a big garden so I am doing lots of gardening. I am cutting down trees and moving others around; it is physically demanding. In addition, this is a very old house, 900 years old, and it needs a lot of maintenance. It is good to have the physical exercise. But thank goodness I had just bought three tons of clay from the Czech Republic before the lockdown!
TDE: Everyone’s pace of life has slowed down considerably; what is the impact of this new rhythm on your work life and home life?
MK: I now work in the garden in the morning and then in my studio during the afternoon and evening up until 10pm, by which time I am very tired. I am fulfilling orders for plates, tea bowls, vases and so on. It means I am not frustrated or upset by the self-isolation – I am usually here alone anyway. In normal circumstances I go to Vienna once a week to deliver ceramics, but not going just gives me more time to think about my work. As long the lockdown doesn’t go on too long, I think it could be quite grounding.
TDE: Do you have a favourite self-isolation recipe to share with us?
MK: I need to have my coffee. I drink it three times a day. And I like to eat salad a lot. I grow lamb’s lettuce in the garden and I mix that with dandelion leaves and tofu.
TDE: What is saving your sanity under lockdown?
MK: Gardening definitely helps. And because the house is heated with wood, I am also chopping wood a lot, which is good exercise – I am starting to get muscles! I spent a great deal of time in Benin in Africa over the past four months because I am setting up a studio there for the winters, but I could not do much exercise because I was so busy organising the construction.
TDE: Which online exhibition/gallery viewing room, or other internet offerings have caught your eye?
MK: In fact I have been going back to my books and my old drawings. I have collected thousands of books about ceramics. Almost ninety per cent of them are Japanese books – because I studied in Japan – and I am just looking at the images. It is very good to remind myself of all the forms and glazes. And then, if I need a new idea, there are all my old drawings. I do however like the website of the Tokyo gallery, shibuya kurodatoen co. ltd.