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The Unusual Ceramics of Dorette Giling

When you think about ceramic art, beauty, tactility, and subjectivity may cross your mind, but there exists art that reaches limitless interpretations. As a child, Dorette Giling (from Heiloo) always wanted to be a visual artist because it personifies an expression of her deepest being. The simple clay feels like second nature to Dorette, where most of her items have an extravagant, baroque look. Depending on which Dictionary you read, the word “baroque” originates from the Portuguese word barroco (meaning ‘irregular pearl’) or French (meaning ‘irregular shape’). Eventually, baroque became used to describe an extravagant style of art, where there is gilt, gold, and curving lines.

While Dorette loves architecture, her biggest source of inspiration is nature (like clear water, winding branches, barks, stones, vivid flowers, and austere landscapes), including ferocity versus refinement and subtlety. Bowls, vases, and unusual objects that she makes, are handmade, being both, functional and artistic. Each of her pieces tell a story, leading us on an adventure that view- ers are invested into learning more about.

Dorette attended the “Amsterdam School of the Arts” (from 1982-1986) and in the drawing and painting department, she became a 1st teacher in training. For a year, she attended “Rijksacade- mie” at the sculpting department in Amsterdam.

She exhibited her paintings and mosaic works solo, well as in groups, in the Netherlands and Belgium. More to her resume, she met requests for both, individuals and companies (with paint- ings, mosaic works, and decorations).

Lush, simplicity, and playfulness, as well as dynamic shapes versus tight shapes, are all kinds of aspects you want to reflect in your work. When you look at the art of other ceramists (like pearlescent colors on a bowl, a translucent, a transparent lamp, and an overglazed platter, do you view them as competition?

No, I am not concerned about that. The more I develop myself in ceramics, the deeper I go into my creativity, resulting in my work becoming more and more authentic. Other people can be very inspiring, fascinating and interesting for me, but it is not what I make and in that way it is not competitive.

Apilar” steengoed, tegellijm, epoxy 114 hoog.’ ©. 2020. All Rights Reserved.

One moment, you may be focusing on a stone and glass tombstone. The next, you may be fo- cusing on a wall object of 6 meters high, made of glass and marble pieces. You may switch to a mosaic square, then a priceless urn (not for sale in any store). For how long were you interested in funeral monuments?

For me, a wall mosaic from 6 meters is an expression of my art. An urn is also an expression of my art. In a way I am busy with the same thing - with forms, with materials, with proportions, with my art-language. I shift quite easily from one thing to the other.

I can’t remember when I got interested in funeral monuments. It is more that I have always been interested in making things in a certain way and funeral monuments suit in my way of making things, in my art.

Classics” keramiek, tegellijm 70 cm.’ ©. 2019. All Rights Reserved.

You give ceramics workshops in your own studio in Amersfoort for beginners and advanced students. Was there ever anyone who just could not learn the proper ceramic skills in your work- shop?

In a workshop, you get to know the beginning principles of ceramics. For some people it is a beginning. They never worked with clay before. It is all new to them. Others already developed their taste, their style. But on one moment they want, for example, to make pottery on a turnta- ble. That is not my specialty - so then its best they go somewhere else to learn that aspect of pot-tery.

Do you make your own clay or buy your own? What type of clay do you use?

I buy my clay. At the moment I like Creaton/ G & S/ 468. It is a flexible fine clay. You can burn it at all kind of temperatures. Sometimes I mix my clay with paper, eggs cartons, to be more pre- cise. I can make fine high construction works. Because the clay is reinforced with crushed egg cartons, it sticks better, also when the clay is a bit dry.

Ode” steengoed, 38 cm hoog. ©. 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Have you ever placed any substances or objects in your art pieces? Are you afraid to get them dirty? Are there any art pieces you create like a chalice where you just drink from or a vase where plants can stay? In your piece “Chalice,” what were you influenced by?

Sometimes I add wood or porcelain pieces, like mosaic, to my work. My vases are meant to be functional as well as autonomous. You can put flowers in it or plants it is always a possibility. Mostly the vases don’t need that. And no, it is not because I am afraid to dirty them. They are all glazed and high fired, so it is easy to wash them.

My work “Chalice” is inspired by the antique form of chalices, as it is used in church for exam- ple. A lot of my vases are inspired by antique forms of vases. At the same time, I am inspired by the ceramic artworks of children. They are never dull or tight. It is free and unexpected. I like to add this aspect in my work.

My work may be rough but also vulnerable and a little crooked.

Chalice” glazuur, verf, 40 cm hoog.’ ©. 2018. All Rights Reserved.

How long does it take to complete a project?

It really depends on which project I work. There are little vases, they take only one day. The longest I worked on was a fountain, I worked on for 3 months.

Your piece “Stog” appears to be a covered vase sitting on an attached, fancy stool, then a bas- ket is on top. What exactly are we looking at in this picture?

It is a combination of forms. The middle piece is a vase, and you can use it as a vase also, by putting water in it and flowers. There is a basket on it, made from paper clay. You can use it as a basket and put oranges in it or the newspaper. The lower part is also a shape in itself.

The 3 objects can be on their own, but together they get a whole new expression. The forms strengthen each other. All together they become a new object. You don’t think any more of a vase and a basket, I hope, but of a work of sculpture.

Stog” with the caption ‘steengoed, tegellijm en epoxy, 103 cm hoog.’ ©. 2020. All Rights Reserved.

How often do your items, if any, blow up in the kiln or oven? Are you able to remake an exact replica of the art pieces is it similar? Do you take pictures of your work before you place it in the kiln?

Yes of course, clay cracks and shrinks, or the glaze appears different from what you had ex- pected. So, it is a fantastic material with so many possibilities, but it can also be a very frustrat- ing material to work with. To work with ceramics, you need to be patient and concentrated. If something breaks it is very hard to remake it. So don’t start with that!

Sometimes I make pictures during the process in case I have to repair the work. And yes, some- times I have to do that!!

Undress A Vase” keramiek,tegellijm, 140 hoog.’ ©. 2019. All Rights Reserved.

Do you have a favorite artist in particular? Is your favorite artist yourself?

An artist, Couzijn van Leeuwen, who lived in the same city as I made beautiful works with cardboard. Just cardboard and staples. A poetic world full of creatures, figures, plants, bookcases and vases. There is so much emotion and sensitivity in this work.

But of course, like a lot of artists. Like Christo, for example, with his fantastic packing pro- jects, the way he transforms a landscape or building or someone like Marina Abramovic. I was totally moved by her project “The Artist Is Present.” She uses her body as material, her energy, the energies of other people, human behavior etc.

I admire works of my friend Monica de Jong. She makes drawings from trees. She draws the transience in nature in such a way that you feel it in your bones. And what do you think of the mystic works of Anish Kapoor, or beautiful little drawings and clay works from my class with 6 and 7 year old children, whom I teach ones a week.

In “Couple Vases,” we can really see the protruding roundness near the top of one vase and near the bottom on the other. Is there more to the story on why the two pieces are together? Is one vase like a male version and the other is a female?

It was a request from a client to make two big vases. They could be completely different, but also belong together. They both are vases inspired by a classical form of a vase, but the material pro- cessing is far from classic. They both are a little standing out and made up by pieces. But one is more closed and the other open. You could see it as a couple, but which one is male and which is female, that’s interchangeable as far as I’m concerned!

“Couple Vases.” ©. 2021. All Rights Reserved.

As pottery projects, aim for function and decoration. Being a professional artist, which do you prefer the most?

For me, that’s a difficult question. I love both and I need both. And my art needs both. But if I really have to choose then my love for decoration wins.

When and where did you first develop your pottery skills? Do you still own your first piece of pottery?

My first teacher worked with children. Under her guidance children made amazing ceramic sculptures. I didn’t notice ceramics before that. I was into painting and also made big mosaics. When I started working with clay, like 15 years ago, I had a special experience. It was like com- ing home. But that feeling came to me through my hands. As if my hands felt at home first and then myself. And yes, my first work is in my parents’ house.

“My Vases and Me.” ©. 2021. All rights Reserved.

Are there any future projects that you are excited about showing the world?

I really like to make big works. So, if I can ever make a big piece which is placed in the public space, I will be very happy.

If you would like to keep updated with Dorette Giling’s latest work via social media, here it is:

Website: Instagram: Facebook:



Work Cites:

Giling, Dorette. Instagram. “dorettegiling.”. 2021.

Giling, Dorette. “Dorette Giling.”. 2021. Giling, Dorette. Facebook. “Dorette Giling.”. 2021.

Giling, Dorette. LinkedIn. “Dorette Giling.” .2021.

Giling, Dorette. Pinterest. “Dorette Giling


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