Journal
/ Oct
2020

Xana and Carlos on the

Barro Negro Collection

Xana Monteiro and Carlos Lima are a duo of Portuguese ceramicists based in Molelos, Tondela. For over three decades they have been developing an extensive body of work in black ceramics, respecting the traditions of pottery as well as keeping an open mind to new creative challenges. As promoters of this art form, they are true masters of Barro Negro and have been performing an important and innovative artistic practice at national and international art biennials.

 

What made you accept a collaboration with Noé, a French designer?

Mainly, the fact that we were already very fond of his aesthetic work. Furthermore, he was able to form his ideas around our work method, which resulted in 
a process of discussions, and encounters bringing to life the pieces in this collection.

 

What was your role in the Barro Negro collection?

We are artisans, we made every single piece of this collection by hand, based on Noé’s designs. Some pieces were co-created after our encounters with Noé in the atelier, seeing some sketches and us making clay mock-ups for Noé, adopting a “hands-on” approach, allowing ideas and initial concepts to become something unique, born out of that specific moment. Other pieces were adapted due to technical viability. We tried to find solutions together, changing certain details in shape, texture and proportions, in keeping with the clay production techniques we work with and the firing of the individual pieces.

“The biggest challenge was having to match several pieces to the millimetre. this challenge was overcome by patience and perseverance.”

What were the biggest challenges during 
this process?

The biggest challenge we faced, was having to match many pieces in the “Dry Vases” set to the millimetre. These are meticulous pieces requiring great precision, each individually handmade to form a circle when displayed together. This challenge was overcome with patience and perseverance, a lot of work, naturally, and many exchanges and visits from Noé’s team.
The lights, were also a challenge, as they are extremely sculptural, demanding pieces, with lots of tension in their shape and curves. It required many attempts, the fruit 
of our knowledge and technical experience to achieve the final pieces.

 

Why did you agree to organize a Soenga?

It has been our goal to promote black ceramic through the process of traditional neolithic firing. As Noé appeared to be very fond and respectful of the Soenga, we took advantage of this and aligned our interests. The “cherry on top of the cake” of this collaboration, was when it all came together on the night of full moon on July 2020.

“Aesthetic conflict must exist, be - cause if not, there is no evolution. Aesthetic conflict depends on the way each of us sees aesthetic and that is all relative. We must have conflict for things to move forward. Conflict is healthy.”

What’s your best memory of this project?

The best memory is the emotional empathy we felt towards Noé during the process of the traditional firing of the Soenga. The greatest pride was that Noé was inspired by the landscapes of our region to create the Lights collection, specifically by the boulders of Caramulinho, at one of the mountaintops of Serra do Caramulo, nearby. We are also very proud of the fact that he is so invested in sharing this ancestral technique of ours which is black ceramics.

 

Any projects for the near future?

We have several projects in hand, related to our artistic practice. We are, for example, working at the moment on new installations in order to apply for International Biennials.

“The greatest pride was that Noé was inspired by the landscapes of our region and that he made such a big commitment in sharing our ancestral technique which is black ceramic.”

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