A guest blog by Jo-Anne Locktov – Tileista
Lisa TeviaClark has immersed herself in the material language of her medium. For the past thirty years she has experimented with clay and the alchemy of heat, salt, ash, minerals, and glazes. With her husband James Clark, she established Bella Vista Tile in 2003, as both a limited production studio and a laboratory. Her careful study of ancient Chinese wood ash glazes provides the inspiration for a contemporary interpretation. Every tree specimen, from Bull Pine to Madrone, interacts with the earth in its own way, resulting in an ash that is completely unique. More than fifty glazes adorn the tile collections, supporting TeviaClark’s desire “to make many different visual realities with tile.”
Making their own molds, hand pressing the clay, mixing and developing custom glazes, glazing by hand, carving and impressing bas relief patterns, together with the intimate and delicate dance of high firing, contributes to the artisanal nature of the tile. Originally creating hand thrown vessels, platters and tableaux (clay icons), TeviaClark transfers the individual nature of her former art into the character of her tile. Each is complete and has the potential to transform the space in which it resides. “I usually get a strong sense of what our tile can bring to the atmosphere,” she says, “what our tile can contribute. I’m very aware of how our tile becomes part of the place.”
A visit several years ago to hot glass artist David Goldhagen resulted in bringing home buckets of glass, broken shards, powders, chunks, the raw materials with which to experiment and ultimately to give birth to a new collection. “Fascinations” brings together porcelain and glass. It consists of delicate carvings, bas-relief dimensionality, matte and metallic glazes together with fragments of glass. Melted and merged, when fired, each tile is a window of light and a well of saturated color. They are reminiscent of stained glass but with light glowing from beneath, an effect made possible by the variable reflective depths of the glass.
When she saw that customers were reproducing sample boards as kitchen focal points, TeviaClark was inspired to create elaborate panels incorporating stones, gems, pearls, and ceramic medallions. Ornate, richly colored mosaics, they offer malleable concepts for materials and textures that invite close observation.
The work of Bella Vista Tile is an antidote to the demise of beauty in the world. “I see that beauty is diminishing in the world. More and more, spaces feel stark and oppressive. When I encounter something beautiful I feel human and somehow cared for. I want to create art that speaks to and gives comfort to the souls of sensitive people.” Encouragingly, she adds, “I believe we are all sensitive people.”