Miguel Neto and Paula Violante: Atelier 19B

A little while ago we visited our friends Miguel Neto and Paula Violante, both inspiring and amazing ceramists, for an autumn's day photoshoot in their studio. We wanted to learn a bit more about them, their inspirations, their work and maybe a little more about the connection between fashion and ceramics.
Photography Daniela Doe
Tell us a bit about yourself? Who are Miguel Neto and Paula Violenta? 

P (Paula) - I was born in Caldas da Rainha, Portugal. A city that had and still has a strong relationship with the arts. I Grew up outside the city in a little village that is called Foz do Arelho. We lived near the seaside and the beautiful sight of the Lagoa de Óbidos. There was a time my father was a fisherman for seafood and me and my sister used to spend time with him in that fantastic environment. At school I was already interested in drawing a lot, my elementary school teacher used to congratulate me for my creativity and skills. 

My sister was also good with drawing and I loved her subtle lines and mysterious figures. It's funny that after all these years she can tell what recent creations of mine still carry her influences. When attending to secondary school I started my ceramic education, I was fascinated by all the possibilities, I also had contact with inspiring teachers at that young age, which I think were decisive to the choices I made afterwards.

M (Miguel)I was born in Lisbon and I grew up in Alcabideche which was a little village at the time. I was Surrounded by nature, and lived very near the coast which was a part of the countryside… so, all the summers were spent at the beach. To the north of Alcabideche, there was the Serra de Sintra which we often went there for the adventure days. I was schooled in Estoril where I also practiced roller hockey and played in a garage band I had with friends. Then I started studying next to home, and drawing began to follow my life more intensely...


What were you hoping to become when you were a kid, what was your dream profession? 

- I don't remember, maybe something like a veterinarian.. but I do recall some nights I would lay in bed holding a position as if I was a ballerina or a circus trappist and would fall a sleep thinking how would it feel like.

M - I don't remember very well, but I think I wanted to be a Doctor because I often visited the hospital at that time due to health issues. I remember all that scenario which made me feel I could be part of it somehow. But nowadays, not really.

Since then, what inner qualities aided your development?

- Creativity, without doubt, confidence, persistence, self-awareness.

- Being an Observer, a thinker, a perfectionist, and creative.


What is the source of your inspiration? Where do you guys draw your inspiration from?

- My main source of inspiration is Nature, its colors, shapes, textures, the bizarre things I find, the tenderness of it, it's just overwhelming in its multitude and uniqueness!!

M - Nature, being aware of other people, architecture, shapes, archaeology of and the past of clay artefacts.

When or how come did you start your working with ceramics? 

- I never considered myself a professional ceramist, it was always a hobby, doing things more for the pleasure of the experience. Only recently I started taking ceramics seriously, I mean as a full-time job because my approach to it was always in a playful, ludic.

M - I felt the need to have a profession that gives an open door to this endless world... It’s already 27 years since I did vocational training, I left school early and early on came the opportunity for me to have my first contact with the potter's wheel, which led me to fall in love with this means of artistic expression.


What have been the best moment/greatest milestones/achievements in your career so far?

Definitely having a place of our own is top on of the list. To have the possibility to work at your own pace and to really concentrate on what you want to do.

M - Undoubtedly, the recognition for your work is a personal accomplishment and it has happened many times; and also the fact that we can enjoy a space where you feel at home and develop your own work is rewarding. 

What have been the best lessons you have learned in your career so far?

P&M -The biggest teaching clay can give you is to be patient cautious and persistent!!

Where do you prefer to work?

P&M - At our studio, listening to music (good one).

Can you describe how your ceramics feels?

P&M - Fun, defiant but also peaceful, with intuitive and natural connection to nature and its elements.


What role color plays in your work?

P&M - We choose to work with natural stoneware clay and porcelain and to apply raw glazes at high temperatures, between cones 8 and 10. Sometimes we woodfire our clay. So, our range of colors tends to be very close to natural ones.


Tell us a bit about your atelier:

P&M Our place is shared with other artists in other domains of arts & crafts, each occupying its own area. The building stands near the city center. We arranged our corner to be very practical while working but also pleasant to visit and hang out. It's very common to have friends over to share a meal (laughs). We want it to be, over time, recognized as a place where you know you can find good quality handmade ceramic products.

 How could you describe your relationship with clothing? Or the relationship between clothing and art?

P&M As creators, we appreciate other artists, different areas of creation and materials. We are always inspired by others, by they're vision and skills. That being said clothing is seen by us as a means of communication not only for the people who create them but also for those who wear them. We recognize fabric as a huge means of expression.