Style Curious


Curiously serene ceramicist, Fabienne Auzolle

Fabienne Auzolle studied history of art at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris, followed by a four year course in applied arts and crafts, specialising in ceramics. From a young age she was fascinated by medieval sculptures of ‘vierges noire’ in the Auvergne area of France where she grew up. The carved wooden, expressionless depictions of women and angels, which she believes convey untold emotion through their ever-so-slightly smiling lips, became a focus for her ceramic sculptures. She also draws inspiration from 17th century paintings by the likes of Nicolas Poussin and Philippe de Champaigne.

Fabienne made the decision to become a designer when she was very young and was taken to countless castles and museums by her mother. She’s always been curious to know about everything – from crafts around the world to what people are wearing on the metro. She’s constantly surprised at how curious other people are too, especially having recently been invited to exhibit her work in Stavanger in Norway. She was particularly intrigued to find out who would buy her work – some were collectors of religious icons, attracted by the symbolism of religious sculpture, (currently rather fashionable); some were just looking to purchase pieces of design art – but others just seemed to fall in love with the simple beauty and creativity of her designs.

Fabienne works alone and her pieces are made entirely by hand - from clay, enamel and bits of antique jewellery that she buys at flea markets. Each item is fired twice and can take up to a month to dry. At the moment she's also working on a wall installation, inspired by the stained glass windows in the churches of Chartres, where she grew up.

Fabienne loves Paris, especially the Musee Gustave Moreau – home to the works of many 19th century symbolist artists. She also adores the work of the Pre-Raphaelite painters, especially Burne-Jones. 

She has a house in Brittany, where she also keeps a studio – and draws upon nature and flowers in her sculptures. Her father was a keen gardener, who maintained a very large garden and greenhouse, which in turn led to her own interest in plants and flowers.

Fabienne is very much an Anglophile too, having studied English in the seaside town of Margate. In London, her favourite place is the Victoria & Albert Museum. She claims that she doesn’t enjoy eating out very much, though she does admit to liking fish and chips. She’d prefer to go to an art gallery preview than a dinner party.

Someone Fabienne very much admires is Nelson Mandela, who she sees as a living symbol of peace and freedom. In future, she’d like to be able to create something that “could somehow change a person’s life for the better”. I’d say she’s already doing this – her sculptures have a curiously serene aura and merely being in their presence is strangely peaceful and enchanting.

Anything else we should know? “I’m crazy about horses,”  she says. Well, I think she must be a bit of a dark horse herself, because you'd never have guessed that from her artwork. Thanks Fabienne – hope you’ll be coming to London again soon – you should definitely take a look around the newly opened ceramics galleries at the V&A.