Interview / Meet The Artists

Ceramics as an Expression of Freedom An Interview with Alp Ateş

Meet Alp Ateş, the co-founder of Blackmamba ceramic studio, whose forms are inspired by his free-spirited journey. Read more about his passion for ceramics as an unlimited and continuous self-transcendence field.

Interview by Bahar Ahu Sağın

What is your first recollection of ceramics? What was the first thing you made with clay?

There is not a specific memory as such, I made the initial contact at the university. I have a keen interest in wildlife and nature. I remember modelling a mountain goat during my first year. 

What is the story behind Black Mamba as a brand?

My production process is precise, serious and disciplined. On the other hand, ceramics is an area of freedom. My only concern is to be satisfied with what I create. Therefore, I always considered the name to reflect such a rebellious and robust nature. Black Mamba was always in my mind. How it sounds phonetically also suits this nature. 

How would you describe your philosophical approach to making?

First and foremost, applying the appropriate technique with precision is vital. No matter how creative the design is, if the technique is wrong the design will not stand out. Whilst working with the potter wheel, I am drawn to its endless possibilities and openness for improvement. The ability to work together and maintain a balance in-between clay and the wheel is a delightful process.

Time spent whilst producing ceramics is my free zone. Without expectations of external validation, I try to reach the point of self-satisfaction. Instead of having to rely upon variations from a number of forms, I try to discover a new form each time I start making. That’s why my works display an array of diversity, and I remain fresh as ever. Because I will always be open to new possibilities, and this will lead me into new adventures. 

How do you spend your day in the studio?

I start the day with a filling breakfast and a strong cup of coffee. Not all days are the same. Sometimes I only knead clay, concentrate on the design, or spend hours working at the wheel. 

Are there any ceramists you follow that inspire you?

Ken Matsuzaki, Wu Wei Cheng, Adam Buick, Lee Hyang-Gu, Lee Kang-Hyo & Shinobu Hashimoto. 

Why do you think ceramics is currently so popular worldwide, especially amongst younger generations?

I think it is related to the power of social media. There are many ceramicists worldwide, most of whom are accessible via social media. This whole situation gave everyone the possibility to discover contemporary ceramic art. I also think that younger generations are encouraged by this accessibility. These days, means of consumption shift towards natural produce and bespoke goods. This is another reason why the number of people who want to work with ceramics has increased.

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