Catching up with Cécile Mestelan
It was not just the exotic that appealed to Cécile Mestelan when moving to Lisbon, but the familiar.
Born and raised in Biarritz, our west-facing, Atlantic sprayed fraternal twin city, the artist turned Lisbon’s ceramics princess via a love story in the Swiss mountains — whilst taking her Masters Degree at ECAL in Lausanne she fell for a fellow from Lisbon and the rest is history.
In Lisbon she was hit by that fatal combination of alluring fascination for a place that is strange whilst also feeling comfortably recognisable. And one where all her enduring sources of inspiration were available in abundance — the elements of the world and the elemental foundation that is a family:
“Growing up, my parents owned a workshop where they produced swimwear, and I loved spending time there — that’s where I first learned that a workshop is a place for the creation of beautiful things with your hands. I had always been fascinated for shaping things, inspired by the elements along the coast, the organic shapes and textures you find near the sea. I have many memories from then that still inspire me today: playing in the fluidity of the ocean, digging with my hands in the dirt of the cliffs, watching the sand I had shaped into form being pulled away by the tide, clouds shifting into shapes over the horizon, and the colours of the sky melting away until the moon comes out; everything so tangible and sensorial yet ephemeral, beyond reach. Working with ceramics allows me to capture all this that inspires me into an object that is permanent.”
And as the tram goes by in a roar, a bewildered customer drops a vase which shatters all over the atelier.
Photos by Pedro Alfacinha