For this week's Community Journal we're pleased to introduce you to Tamara, a multidisciplinary Arabic-Filipina artist with a primary focus on pottery and ceramics. Tamara's amorphous and organic approach to pottery engages with Southeast Asian and Arabic diaspora: seeking traditional and ancient techniques to craft works that connect her with her ancestry.
Introduce yourself and describe what you do.
I’m Tamara, but you can call me Solem. I am an Arabic-Filipina multidisciplinary artist with a main focus on pottery and ceramics.
How did you get started and why did you choose the industry/career you’re in?
Throughout my science degree, I had practiced pottery as a hobby for 4 years before beginning to practice full time after my graduation. I opened my studio just over a year ago and started out teaching private pottery classes which emphasized the importance of grounding one's self through engaging with earth movement and the alchemy with the elements air, fire and water. I have taken a break from mentoring and am now focused on meditative play, creating larger-scale one-off vases and sculptures.
Your ceramics feel more authentic and natural than a lot of the other ceramics in the market right now, what inspires your creative process?
My work often intentionally averts from the modernist approach that seems to drive the majority of today's visual art and interior design (ie. Bauhaus-like geometric, minimalist, block colours) by referencing traditional shapes, textures & colours that my ancestors would have used. Much of my work engages with the Southeast Asian & Arabic diaspora in this way and ancient architecture/pottery from these regions directly inspire my work. I find it grounding to be surrounded by raw, authentic textures and shapes that remind me of my ancestry- especially in a city that can often feel sterile and gentrified.
What’s next? Anything cool you’re working on?
Hard to tell what’s next! I generally impulsively pick up on ideas right before manifesting them. Variations of my Hole vases and Protection vases will always be in stock as they are a part of my continuous collection. However, I have been playing with transforming my ceramics into larger-scale life-sized sculptures, furniture and light fixtures with plaster of Paris. I love the idea of using your entire body to create and move around a giant piece. It’ll be challenging, but I think I’m ready to add a new medium to my practice while still maintaining the same feeling and soul of my work.
Photographed by Nathan Legiehn
Check out Tamara and Solem Ceramics on Instagram at @___solem.