An interview with ceramicist Hala Matta
Born in Beirut in 1970, Hala’s unusual career took her on a journey from the business world to the ceramics universe. Tremendously talented and passionate, Hala who is Beirut-based, is pursuing her voyage around the world bringing forth her unique pieces, ranging from practical to decorative objects. She participated in workshops in Denmark, Paris, Greece, and Egypt and presented her artwork in collective exhibitions in Beirut, Paris, New York and Brussels. We asked her about her art, craft, inspiration and projects.
- Could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into ceramics?
I started in banking and finance at Paribas in Paris then worked with Louis Vuitton in Paris, Dubai and Lebanon. While those jobs gave me tremendous pleasure, I nonetheless wanted to be free from corporate constraints, speed, constant travels, and meetings. The day I left my job, I took a first course at Nathalie Khayat’s studio as I admire her work, and have never stopped playing with clay since! My teachers are everywhere, in Lebanon, Egypt, Greece, and France.
- How would you describe your style?
My style is often a combination of culture, travel and personal taste. I am attracted to simple forms, and my inspiration comes from the communicative power and beauty of nature combined with the spontaneity of the pottery making process itself.
My favorite firing technique is the Raku developed in Japan in the 16th century. Initially developed to make bowls for the tea ceremony, this delicate creative process is based on particular firing techniques, which makes each object created a unique piece. A simple lack of attention during the raku process can be fatal and ruins months of work!
- What fascinates you about ceramic as a medium for your designs?
The infinite possibilities the medium offers. There are not only different processes to create ceramic art work between the slab, building the coiling and the wheel, the forms and shapes can also be infinite. Once you master the technique, the freedom the medium offers is pure luxury. I usually make pieces I would like to have like lamps, tables, mirrors, murals, and totems.
- What is on your mind when you are shaping the object?
I am mostly in a state of flow with my hand wandering on the clay, my heart vibrating with joy, and my head focusing on the shape. My studios are my happy place!
- Which materials fascinate you the most other than clay? Are there any that you have not worked with but would like to?
Orient 499’s cashmere and silk! Nothing gives me more joy than a cashmere abaya from Orient 499 and sitting by the fireplace, or a beautiful silk dress on a warm summer night.
Like Orient 499 I love working with different artisans to create objects combining clay with brass, bronze, or wood.
- Tell us about your future plans.
I am excited about « Un Siècle de Création au Féminin », an auction in Paris for Women's International Day on March 8, 2022 gathering ceramic art works made by remarkable female ceramicists.
In April 2022, I will be holding an a show in New York with the amazing Gabriel & Guillaume Gallery.
Hala Matta is wearing Orient 499's SS22 collection
All photos by ©Chérine Jokhdar