Ingrid Saag | Art - essential to one's identity!

Ingrid Saag 
I knew since the age of eight that I was going to be an artist. There was never any question about it. While growing up in British Guiana, I spent a lot of time painting and drawing and also was an absolute bookworm.

I decided to be a book illustrator… obviously!

After attending art college in England and while working as an illustrator in publishing, packaging and advertising, I felt I wanted to explore being creative in a different medium without the constraints of a commission.

I tried to find somewhere to learn about glass making, but opportunities to study this medium were at the time scarce. However, there was no shortage of classes available in Adult Education to learn pottery. I began around the mid-eighties at Putney School of Art under Tessa Fuchs, did a short stint at Morley College with Jill Crowley, even completed a raku course at Latchmere College where I came across another student, the then-unknown Grayson Perry. I finally ended up at Manresa House in Roehampton, where I stayed for several years until it was closed down by the local authority.

Ingrid Saag | Large Vessel

Anyway, I was hooked. Twenty years later I found myself making pots professionally and a year after that was selected for membership of the CPA.

It’s a visceral need the artist has; can’t live without it, most can’t live by it.

Ingrid Saag | Painted Vessel
Why do I do what I do? I can’t help it. I once gave up being creative for five years and, looking back on that time, was miserable. It’s a visceral need the artist has; can’t live without it, most can’t live by it. Sometimes I think it can be viewed as a curse, sometimes a gift, sometimes a luxury, certainly essential to one’s identity. If ideas weren’t expressed through clay, it would be in some other medium, some other way to be creative. 

A new idea will always start with drawing in black and white, usually pencil.

I don’t use colour because I can see the colours in my mind with the help of my test tiles. I make notes on the side or on the drawing about which colours I plan to use and whether slips, underglaze, or glaze. On another day I may see different colours so I can use the same drawing for other variations.

Most ideas come from aspects of my life or from my interests. For example, when I was growing up we had two large mango trees from which I have wonderful memories of playing in the tree house in one of them and picking the mangoes. In my early days in England, I guess my homesickness came out via dreams of picking the luscious mangoes hanging on their long stems…this led to the Mango Pickers vases.
Ingrid Saag | Thrown Vessel

I like working/ painting in different styles, as I find it interesting and a challenge. I’m quite versatile and was used to being asked to do this in my career as an illustrator. I recently conceived a range of thrown and painted pots with ripped rims. Sometimes the tearing motion causes a gentle outline, other times the random nature of the tearing results in a more jagged appearance. I like to compare this to the earth’s natural forces that create the outline of the landscape.

I can’t say I have a favourite pot or artwork, but many favourites. I love Niki de St Phalle’s giant Nanas with their mosaics or painted designs, Ashraf Hanna’s wonderful organic shapes, am inspired by a lot of Pablo Picasso’s paintings, in particular, the ones of his many lovers, the landscapes of Ivon Hitchens, the abstract paintings of Franz Kline…among others.

I guess I will continue to be creative in some way as long as I have breath…because artists don’t retire. " Ingrid Saag 2019


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