Barro (Clay)

BY Paula de Solminihac, | BY Magdalena Atria, | POSTED IN All Projects, Cono Sur

Clay is a research project developed by Chilean artists and teachers Paula de Solminihac and Magdalena Atria, which hopes to create spaces for knowledge exchange between different types of pottery practices in Chile.

Focusing on women potters who live in towns in the south-central area of the country, we seek to deeply understand the relationships between women artisans and their territories. We also hope to enrich the ways that contemporary art is taught, creating an integrated system of knowledge that includes traditional and popular approaches to ceramics within the framework of university teaching processes.

The project is organised as a combination of field work, artistic creation, documentation and teaching. During January 2020, the first fieldwork was carried out, which consisted of visiting three places well known for their ceramic traditions:

Vichuquén and Pilén (Maule region) and Quinchamalí (Ñuble region). The purpose of the visit was to meet the women who work with clay in each region, learn from their ways of life, their relationship with their surroundings and their vision regarding the pottery trade and its context.

Based on this experience, the second season will take place the following winter (May-September 2020). During this period the artists will carry out personal creative work, bringing together their previous knowledge about ceramics with the knowledge collected during the visit to ancestral places.

Subsequently, we will produce an audio-visual piece to show the “ways of life” behind the pottery work – mainly the metamorphosing of women into their product, one of the main engines of local mythical creation today.

The audio-visual production will be carried out as part of a second field work season (November 2020 to February 2021). We will visit the original locations along with some new areas.


Given the nature of this project, we hope that the results will initiate a chain of knowledge that will grow over time, rather than closing in on a definitive and defining product. Therefore, a third season is expected to enrich the research and creation processes.


We hope to be able to examine the traditional Latin American ceramic objects in the British Museum collection, in order to create an exhibition at the Museo del Barro and to carry out a pottery workshop at the Villarrica Campus of the Catholic University (in Chile).