The poetic ceramics of Bisila Noha are stirringly deceiving. At first glance, hand-crafted patterns form beautiful, abstract shapes on what seem to be familiar crockery objects. In reality, she creates ceramic paintings, which tell the story of nature’s ever-changing landscapes through a combination of ancient and modern marbling techniques.
Her art brings to question the very core beliefs of academic art history, defying the traditional, hierarchical and confining division between Fine and Decorative Arts. An important member of Create’s team of professional artists, Bisila’s bravely modern yet acutely technical practice invites us to reconsider our society’s value systems, and thus rethink how our own personal values affect our wellbeing and creativity.
Bisila confesses that what she loves most about making art is storytelling, a skill she powerfully showcases in one of her latest projects Brumas (2019). “I am mainly inspired by nature and its phenomena. Zaragoza, the city I come from in Spain, is known for how windy it is. Besides, I grew up going to Panticosa, a small village in the Pyrenees, from where I have strong memories of the summer storms and how the sky can change in minutes: darkness, the storm and then clear skies as if nothing had happened. Thus, my abstract ceramic paintings – as I now like to call them – are mostly about that: skies, storms, wind, clouds. With an increasing control of the marbling technique, I now can express artistically what I visualise. And so I have started making triptychs, so that I can tell the entire story as I imagine it in my head: the storm in progress, the clouds moving and a clear sky.”
“through creativity, humans can find their own selves, their true voice and their value.”Bisila Noha
Brumas demonstrates Bisila’s virtuoso ability to capture the sky’s broody scenery, the hand-created heavens seeming to breathe with life within their porcelain world. The project, however, is also a powerful statement about our society’s increasingly stormy status quo. “We live in a world and a time where we – as a society – tend to value more those things we can use; those of us who do and produce the most. Capitalism is all about productivity and functionality.”
“Therefore, when I started making, I was obsessed with making things that people could use; and the more functions those pots could have, the better. So cups could be used for coffee, spices, candles; bottles could also be vases; and plates could also be trays. At some point while doing some tests, I realised that my marbling, actually looked amazing when raw, with no glaze on top. Sadly for my multi-functional personal crusade, though, that meant that the pieces ‘could not be used’. It took me a long while to find peace within and start appreciating the value of these decorative pieces – that of visual delight and aesthetic pleasure. This is what I mean when I say that Brumas is about leaving the ‘doing’ behind, and embracing the ‘being’. I at last gave my pots a break and let them be.”
“My first conceptual project with ceramics is called Los Noha (2015), and it is very special to me as it was the first time I connected myself and who I am with what I make. It started with me thinking of how I could create something very unique for my family for Christmas, and I came up with the idea for this project: one pot for each one of the members of my family – dad, mum, sister and brother, each one decorated in order to match their skin colour. Coming from a mixed-race background has resulted in me being interested in mixing in general. With this project I started to investigate how different glazes combined would come out by adding different layers.”
“With Los Noha I discovered that I was not interested in making things for the sake of it, but in telling stories. These concepts or stories may or may not be relevant for some customers, but certainly make my practice deeper and more meaningful to me. Since 2015 on a more technical level, my practice has improved so much in the last four years. Those pots were so tiny! I love looking at them when I’m home, as they help me reflect upon how far I’ve come and how much my life has changed since then.”
“the combination of craftwomanship and ‘traditional’ artistic input that Decorative Arts require is mad.”Bisila Noha
Bisila’s ability to elevate the medium of ceramics to fine art has been celebrated by both the academics and art dealers. “I had so many thoughts around this topic earlier this year, as I had the chance to exhibit at London Art Fair with Thrown Contemporary, the gallery in Highgate that I work with. We were there because London Art Fair launched ‘Platform’, a new section that focuses on different disciplines each year, and they had chosen ceramics for their first year ever. I think that probably is a very good sign of a change. Traditionally, ceramics were considered Fine Art only if they had been made by an already Fine Art artist, such as Picasso.
“However, I have the feeling that at least in London today, pottery is experiencing a renaissance that is bringing it to the spotlight. Luckily there are galleries, such as Thrown, that are well aware of this change and championing artists leaving traditional constrains of what is and what isn’t art. I think that the combination of craftwomanship and ‘traditional’ artistic input that Decorative Arts require is mad and it’s high time they stopped being seen as second class citizens in the ‘Arts’ world.”
The artist is an eloquent contributor to the current conversation about the definitions of art mediums – but at the heart of her practice is her determination to make the world a better place through creativity. As an important member of Create’s team of professional artists, Bisila works on our projects to engage the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children and adults with the art of ceramics. “It is an honour to be part of Create! I have mostly worked with children so far and it is beautiful to see them making together and having a respite from their lives. I believe that the way Create programmes and designs the workshops is amazing, as participants learn many different skills at once in a fun way – from creative thinking, communication or teamwork, to the extremely rich range of disciplines the charity offers. I think it’s fantastic, especially as creativity and the arts have been forgotten at schools and in society as a whole. And it also benefits us, the workshop facilitators!”
“I believe that through creativity, humans can find their own selves, their true voice and their value. Creativity and creative thinking also make people more resourceful and independent and less afraid of changes. And on top of that, it can have an incredibly positive impact on people’s mental and physical health as a result. So if the world was filled with people whose brains were well oiled and fed through creativity, who knew who they were and consequently were more at peace with others, I think we could live in a pretty amazing place”.
Please visit Bisila Noha’s website to view more of her beautiful work here.