Sabine Lalande, one for all


Text by Pascale Nobécourt journalist for the “Revue de la céramique et du Verre“, n° 184 May-June 2012



Sabine Lalande‘s figures of children remind us of the challenge of the loss of vital power. Her freedom of expression doesn’t hesitate to combine ceramics and textiles.



They are composed in groups, and thus grouped, they are strong.



"It is difficult for us humans to die," said the old shaman, laughing. Oh indeed, it is difficult for us to die, but even so, you need not look any further. They are upright, these children of many colours, united and armed to fight. With their rounded cheeks, red lips and slanting or rounded eyes like marbles under their Mickey Mouse caps, their toys and their shoddy shields, they are defending childhood.


Above all, a literal childhood, scorned, far away under the bombs, but somehow also close, stripped bare by gadgets and an excess of images, and free, the spontaneous child in man, effervescent, the slightest trace of which is always a sign of life in an adult.



Given the state of the world, we could worry about the outcome of this combat.


And yet these children can do anything. Firmly planted in their multi-coloured boots, armed with their laughable toys, they can because they are together. .... "They come from different cultures, with the richness that this implies, but they have their human roots in common; an invitation to dialogue, to respect, to tolerate and to recognise oneself in the other. The world puts great pressure on people today, humans are driven into corners; paradoxically, this makes them stronger, provided they are linked to others and to the Earth."






After an auspicious start with a number of video performances including the notable Colloque entre Plures and Una presented at the Steedelijk Museum of Amsterdam in 1996 (awarded the jury prize by Miquel Barcelo at the international film festival on clay and glass in 2002 in Montpellier), and an initial series on sculpted heads, Sabine Lalande “rested” for a while with the production of utilitarian pieces that she sold on pottery markets.


This was until the creation, in 2004, of this set of full-scale sandstone figures meeting, for her, an “internal need. With “Invincibles”, she joins the sphere of contemporary art.


A pictorial technique in large fluid designs on paper (watercolours, gouache and India ink) with joyously exploding colours that has always been a part of and nourished her ceramic work.



This is a flexible way of exploring new avenues and testing new ideas that the demanding precision of earth does not allow.



In the workshop of her home in Vaux-sur-Seine, each piece represents a stage in her work of art: drawing, moulding, enamelling and firing.



In 2008, Sabine Lalande spent one and half months in Japan in residence in Shigaraki, the city where Tanuki statues are made.



She explored the theme of these folkloric dog badgers, mischievous and jolly, able to shape shift into men or objects, and who guard the thresholds of Japanese dwellings.



One of these is carelessly sprawled, a surprising Olympia, in the moulding room. Its clothing is decorated with multiple patterns, with blond hair, real hair added to its clay chignon, revealing the playful side of the ceramist in matters of costume and makeup, all created with a wide palette in low-fired ceramic glaze.



Next to the Yamanba, the jaunty Tanuki, there are several Chupas, also hybrid and eccentric figures. Products of the most recent work underway, they are nonetheless stamped with a new gravity which takes nothing away from their titles which are sometimes absurd (Particule du mouton, Souhait du Gourou glacé…). Born of an historical timeline where ancient fetishist rites and parties hosted by Gothic-Lolita superheroes collide, these sculptures forcefully regale us with the desire for the re-enchantment of a humanity that is increasingly confined.



Their hands, disproportionate in size, are held open in offering. As with the Fin Simonsson, it is the children who bear the message. Is this because in our part of the world, life remains the most evident in them?



All the sculptures are mounted on inlays with successive layers of material on standard forms plate-stamped in moulds – from whence the perceptible unity in the diversity underlying the adornment of each. Here again, through their fluidity, textile elements enhance the ceramic.



Sabine Lalande teaches ceramics at the Lycée Auguste Renoir in Paris. In particular, she advises her students “to let go to find the free run of the river. Because an excess of logic will leave you on the banks where you will dry up and disappear.”