While out walking, Nathalie Doyen (1964, Tournai Belgium) uses a magnifying glass to inspect vegetation, mosses, bark and stones. She is known to examine natural science encyclopaedia admiring scales, carapaces, lichens, leaves and animal skins. In both instances she is searching for a rhythm and a detail to bring to her distinctive art.
Doyen trained as a classic potter making vessels. She won prizes and awards but started to feel stuck in this cycle of seeking eternal perfection. No longer content to produce works to fill the shelves or pedestals of galleries she began to deform perfection and then to deconstruct. She moved from the perceived constraints of the potters studio to the world of sculpture, conquering new grounds, creating installations indoors and outdoors, from large scale to miniature, temporary or permanent by using diverse materials ranging from clay, paper and stone to shells, cement and bricks. Doing so she always remained connected to her main source of inspiration: Nature.
The objects displayed at Puls are part of her most recent search. They are made by pressing tiny balls of clay on the surface of solid shapes and then stamping each ball with a slim needle. By adding oxides and engobes she creates subtle changes in colour, form and pattern creating perhaps a velvety look or a hard mineral look. Most often the resulting surface might resemble mossed-over rocks or maybe even a reptile skin. In an interview with New Ceramics she explains her way of working as follows:
“ From a technical point of view, what I do looks simple. But the trick is to maintain sensitivity while making repetitive movements. The thing which really matters to me is the procedure: I have always worked calmly with clay, searching for tranquillity, but now I am looking further. The slow pace has become a process in itself. In this way, each day, during sessions of 2 to 6 hours, the rhythm of my work proves to be meditative, even hypnotic”.
While her work is perfectly executed Doyen is not a craftsperson per se. For her conceptual considerations and the process of creation are of basic importance. She is not looking to commit an ingenious bold act but rather works with simplicity towards this process of invention.
Nathalie Doyen trained at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Tournai. She has exhibited in Belgium and abroad since 1987 and has been artist in residence in France, Portugal, Italy, China and in Quebec. Her work is part of a string of permanent collections. Doyen teaches ceramics at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Namur, Belgium.