Cascading fruit, flora and insects in glazed and unglazed porcelain with gold luster; installed in the Four Seasons Place in Pudong, Shanghai. (Photo courtesy of Lulin Chen)
I first saw Pascale Girardin’s work in an wall-mounted installation of delicate ceramic oak leaves at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto. Soon after, I reached out to have her create a custom mural tailor-made for a large entryway wall in a client’s home.
In general, commissioning an artwork comes with risk factors—the concept, execution, budget and timing can go off-track at times. To my delight, however, Pascale was that elusive combination of creative thinker and consummate professional; an incredibly talented artist and craftsperson with the focus to manage a sizable atelier that creates all manner of ceramic artworks. From hand-thrown bowls and pottery, to major installations that turn grand hotel lobbies and department stores into ethereal, immersive environments, her work is in high demand, and for good reason.
A steel and stoneware installation in the lobby of the Le Germain Hotel in Calgary. (Photo courtesy of Groupe Germain Hotels)
Detail of Seascape, a glazed stoneware and lustre piece. (Photo courtesy of Stephany Hildebrand)
A 2013 garden-themed glazed stoneware display from Harry Winston’s 5th Avenue windows—yes, please! (Photo courtesy of Pascale Girardin)
A sculpted screen of glazed stoneware, in the Clement Restaurant at the Peninsula Hotel in NYC. (Photo courtesy of Evan Dion)
Girardin was born in Quebec, raised between French Canada and the United States, and has traveled extensively throughout her life. As is fitting for a master of an art form that requires a handy knowledge of chemistry and physics, Girardin’s background is in sciences; she originally studied biology in university, but made a U-turn to pursue a fine arts degree instead.
I recently visited her at her Montreal studio, an unexpectedly orderly workspace, given the volume of in-production projects filling her busy schedule. We met on a quiet Saturday, when her team of assistants and studio coordinators were home (or installing overseas).
Pascale unloading “petals” from a kiln. A sizeable portion of work is typically lost in the firing process.
The studio catalogues an extensive library of house-made glazes, whose formulas are achieved after labourious experimentation and tweaking.
Fired flowers laid out for installation
Ceramics are often overlooked as a fine art, with far fewer gallery shows dedicated to ceramic works than painting and photography. Yet, Pascale has managed to create a niche for herself, with a range of products, from fine tableware to dramatic sculpture, elevating ceramics to its rightful place.
For more on the artist and her stunning output, see her website.