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Fine ceramic art

Unit 89

Inspired by tactility, vulnerability and the source of emotional human connection

Discover the world of Unit 89

Hand pinched porcelain

Artist Ula Saniawa is a ceramic artist who creates ceramic lighting and installations inspired by vulnerability, tactility and the source of emotional human connection.

Ula first trained in architecture, working with logic, algorithms and mathematical approach to patterns but left her feeling disconnected and paralysed by perfectionism. In her own words,

“the visceral need for grounding in tactility led me to discover clay”.

Her architectural background can still be distinguished in her work, as being mindful of a context is an important part of her work with the intention that her work sits well in a space, offering character without overwhelming it.

The process that drives her work is the innate clash of perfection and imperfection, algorithmic and chaotic. The marks left by her gestures and fingerprints in the porcelain offers the sense of vulnerability and human connection and artistry that drives her work. 

Ula works entirely by hand in unglazed porcelain with additions such as stoneware, oxides, crushed marble, iron etc. Each piece is completely unique, through a different design, material response and slight variation in natural gestures.

Please contact us for further information or a get-together. 

Master craftsman • Proven savoir faire

Hand-pinching clay is intuitive and responsive

Unit 89’s creations come from being able to sense, feel and work with ceramics in a very natural and tactile way.

All of Ula’s work is based on the principle of accumulation of seemingly identical but unique elements, and how they converse between each other. The difference is in the character of each element and how they interact with one another. Ula describes it as her installations are separate, small individual components compiled together in a formulaic manner, whilst with the ceramic vessels it is her gestures that become the prime units.

The creative process

From her London studio Ula’s creations come to life through a delicate and natural process that is also challenging both technically and physically. Ula describes the creative process as being intuitive and responsive and comes naturally to her hand when touching the clay, a direct connection with the raw material but there is a lot more to it than that.

Her stunning creations are time consuming and strenuous on the body, particularly the wrists and finger joints which limits the number of pieces that can be made. Porcelain is also an incredibly fragile material until it is fired. Until then it can collapse on its own when wet, fall part into dust or crack when handling during drying therefore only about one in four of Ula’s pieces make it to the firing.

The challenge of each piece is however worth it when it emerges out of the kiln. The final result; it’s strength, translucency and delicate appearance make the delicate dedication worthwhile.

Place, space & human connection

Ula’s creations are not only about the pieces themselves or the spaces that they inhabit but a combination of scale, light, shadows, texture, height at which they are perceived and the living environment through which people interact and encounter the pieces. It is these interactions and environments that connect space, objects and the human mind in turn bridging beauty and function in a natural way.

It is the not only the architectural space that the pieces inhabit, the scale, the light and shadow, the textures and objects that would surround them and the height at which they would be perceived at, but the context of a living environment and how they impact people that encounter them. It is about building mindful relationships between space, objects and the human engagement.

As the clay thins under my touch, its essence emerges, guiding my hands in an emotive journey of discovery. Boundaries dissolve, revealing intricate pathways that lead to the heart of my vision. Each piece whispers its own story, a fusion of earthly elements and human expression, woven into the fabric of existence.