Thomais Kontou

Enchanted by porcelain

  • Kontou has been working with porcelain since 1988
  • She learned her craft working with master ceramicists in Athens
  • The first items she created were utilitarian objects
    Ceramicist Thomais Kontou has always loved creating objects with her own hands. “As a child, I used to make constructions using stones, wood, soil and textiles. Activities such as painting, sewing, embroidery, knitting and cooking made me happy.” At the same time as pursuing her studies in Graphic Arts, she painted ceramics in ceramic workshops across Athens. In one of them, Kontou saw the owner Stelios Laskaris using the wheel; instantly enchanted, she decided to dedicate herself to this craft. As an artist, she is self-taught. Kontou developed her style after attending seminars, experimenting endlessly, discussing with colleagues about work experiences and visiting museum exhibitions while travelling around the world.

    I have been professionally engaged in pottery since 1975, and almost exclusively working with porcelain since 1988.

    Having graduated the Doxiades School of Graphic Arts and Design, I attended the workshop of Stelios Laskaris and afterwards studied pottery (David Woodcock), chemistry (Menander Papadopoulos), Raku (Menanoler Papadopoulos, Kostas Tarkasis) and porcelain (David Leach). In addition, I completed a two - year seminar on Art History by Pantelis Tzavalos. My journeys through France, Italy, Russia, Egypt, Denmark, Sweden and Turkey have all provided artistic stimuli and affected my work in various ways.

    I am a member of the Greek Chamber of Arts and Crafts, the Association of the Mesogaea Visual Arists, as well as a founding member of the Panhellenic Union of Artistic Ceramists. I also served in the Board of Critics for the awards of the 50th Panhellenic Show of Ceramics.

    I have displayed my works in a solo exhibition at the 'EMEIS' Gallery in Tsakalof St., and participated in numerous group exhibitions in Greece ( Art Athena '11, the Vorres Museum, the Athens Municipality Center, the Salonica Municipality et al., as well as in England and Belgium. I regularly supply artifacts to the Benaki Museum Gift Shop, the Chadjikyriakos - Ghikas Museum, the 'Astrolavos' Gallery of Art, and others. In the past I collaborated with the Museum of Macedonian Art, the 'ANEMOS' Art Gallery and the Zolotas Chrysotheque.

    Samples of my work have been included in Peter Lane's 'Contemporary Studio Porcelain' book, in the 'Κεραμική Τέχνη' periodical, as well as many other decoration and design magazines.


    A lively, charming and wayward material

    A fascinating element

    It is the very substance of porcelain, in combination with extreme firing temperatures, which lend its particularly interesting aesthetic characteristics: transparency, whiteness, luminosity and splendour of colours, in addition to its hardness and durability, which render it ideal for utility purposes.

    On the other hand, porcelain can be a wayward material for the person working with it. It possesses little plasticity, thus impending the shaping of objects. It is especially fragile before burning, and demands great precision and attention at all stages of processing. Ceramic technicians often speak of the 'memory' inherent in the porcelain mass, which, during the final burning, may bring back some flaw in the shape of an object, despite any previous corrections.

    After working with porcelain for so many years, I still discover that it keeps a lot of secrets and surprises. I find this element particularly fascinating.

    Utility and decorative artifacts

    I shape most objects on the wheel, using moulds only for specific forms like tile - plates and wall - inlays. I employ ornamental techniques of engraving, cutting, incision and partial removal of material, as well as waxing underneath or over the glazes. The waxing method resembles that of the batik.

    I compose all glazes on my own, making use of natural raw materials, such as i.e. oak - tree ash glaze. The colours are metal oxides and high temperature pigments of my own combinations and tints. I also make frequent use of rust reddish - brown and the Mink blue that David Leach showed me.

    I produce both utility and decorative artifacts in a great variety of dimensio

    ns: from large forms to miniatures. They are burnt twice in oxidizing atmosphere, first at 1040 celcius and secondly at 1280 celcius.

    All objects are handmade in all stages of their processing, exclusively crafted by me, in my personal forms, colours and designs.