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Art / Craft Scotland / Collect 2023

"I thought ceramics would be a good way to push my recovery further simply as a lovely activity to do with my hands, I became very passionate about it very quickly."

Borja Moronta

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Spanish born ceramicist Borja Moronta, now based in Edinburgh, creates pieces that beautifully captures a sense of beauty and stillness that is both subtle and incredibly detailed. It is through this use of his delicate, natural, soft palette tone that each piece, all hand finished, is uniquely able to share the artists story.


Hi Borja, Thank you for talking with The New Current. How has everything been going?


Thank you so much to you and the team behind The New Current for having me! It’s been an intense but incredible start of the year so I really can’t complain.

Congratulations on being part of Craft Scotland at Collect 2023! What has it meant to you to be part of such an impressive lineup of Scottish-based Makers?

Thank you so much! To me it’s really a dream come true. I think most makers will dream of showing at Collect, my luck is to do it with Craft Scotland’s showcase. Their lineup is always very carefully curated and there are so many Scottish makers I admire who have been part of previous occasions, to participate in the show with them is the best possible way to do Collect really.

Will there be any nerves ahead of Collect 2023, or do you think you are going to be able to relax and enjoy the whole experience?

As a ceramicist I think my nerves relaxed a lot once I saw the work coming out of the kiln as I had hoped. Once that was done and ready I felt at ease, so for me it’s all about enjoying the experience and the show.

How essential are creative opportunities like Craft Scotland and Collect 2023?

For me Craft Scotland has been incredibly supportive since the beginning of my career truly. They have always boosted my confidence and seen a potential in my work I may have not seen myself. Being selected to show at Collect with them is another incredible opportunity they are providing me with. To show in such a stage, but also to allow me to develop the ideas I had in mind for the show is key not just in order to get to the show, but to help me evolve and grow as a maker and artist.

What more do you think can be done to champion and support future independent Makers?

It is important for the funding to continue to arrive and to not be reduced. Organisations such as Craft Scotland, or Creative Scotland are filled with people passionate about craft and art, people that is supportive and will do their best to help makers reach opportunities. But the funding needs to be there from the government. If that continues to flow, the right people will continue to push and support craft and the makers behind it.

When did you discover the Edinburgh Ceramics Workshop, and did you imagine that becoming a member would lead you to Collect 2023?

I joined ECW as an evening class student in January 2018, that was my first experience with clay. I continued to work there for nearly 3 years until I set up my first studio, but I never thought at that stage I was anywhere near showing at Collect. It was something I had dreamt of doing, but maybe in 10, 15 more years time, not so early in my career.

Had you always had a passion for ceramics?

Not really, I started to pay attention to ceramics a few years into my architecture studies, when I participated on a workshop about traditional Japanese architecture. We looked into traditional ways of living, objects, etc. It was probably the first time I got to appreciate the craft and the objects themselves. But it wasn’t until I suffered a hand injury and surgery followed by a long recovery process. I thought ceramics would be a good way to push my recovery further simply as a lovely activity to do with my hands, I became very passionate about it very quickly.

You studied architecture at the Madrid Polytechnic University; how does this background inspire your work today?

Since my years at university, I was always drawn to minimal architecture, to simplicity, and to the work of those architects that tend to showcase the materials, such as Peter Zumthor or Tadao Ando. I make ceramics that feel close to the architecture I would have made if I had pursued that career. Simple lines, minimalist style and objects that aim to showcase the material itself.


What was the most valuable lesson you took from your time at Madrid Polytechnic University?

I was taught to never be complacent about what you have made today, and to wake up the next day wanting to learn more, to improve further, and to do better. If a design was good, my teachers would demand for it to be excellent. If it was excellent, they’d ask to you to carry on polishing details until it was as perfect as things can be. That work ethic, the commitment to pursuing improvement is the best lesson I carry with me. I can never look at a pot and think it is perfect, I may be happy with it, but I will continue to push myself until it gets better and better.

Coming from Asturias in Northern Spain and now based in Newhaven, Edinburgh, how much does place influence your work?

Asturias is a place of sea and mountains, a green land with many small towns and villages scattered around the countryside and alongside the coast. It is a place where food takes time, people work the fields and you are surrounded by nature. I think the pace of the place, slower than bigger cities for example, that sense of calmness in the area is what I carry into my work.

Would you be able to take me through the pieces you are going to showcase at Craft Scotland and Collect 2023?

I have created three compositions for the show, the first one is called “To Speak in Solitude” and probably gives meaning to the other two as well. The pieces are composed by a series of bottles, bowls and cups that are inspired by the still life paintings of Morandi or Francisco de Zurbarán, and elevated by a handbuilt ceramic platform that frames it as if it was a painting. I wanted to create a series of still life compositions that reflected the way I feel and work with clay. To present through my ceramics the idea of peace and calm, to offer the viewer a minute of pause and breathing.

How best do these pieces represent you and the work you are creating?

I think they feel very personal in their whole. I try to work and live in spaces that feel peaceful and calm, I wear clothes made with natural materials or with colours similar to those you see in the pieces, so the work really feels like an extension of myself, of my background and of how I like to live.

Was it always your intention to have all your pieces handmade?

Since the beginning, I felt a strong connection with the material, with clay. How flexible and malleable it is for example, how it flows in the wheel. My practice would only work if I am the person making the pieces. The connection with the clay, and preparing it myself, blending it is the beginning of it all. It puts my mind at ease, it relaxes me. I then enjoy being on top of every step of the process, and working on the objects from start to finish.

Does this personal touch that your work has make it hard to give up your pieces?

Out of every batch or throwing session, there is always a pot that stands out and I have a hard time parting ways with, and often I had thought about starting an archive of special pieces. But at the same time I enjoy photographing them and letting them go, it motivates me to try and get the next batch as good as that one. On the other hand I enjoy seeing my work being used and reaching other people, this work has allowed me to create beautiful human connections and continues to do so, and that makes it easy. There is a part of me with every person that supports my work, and I like that thought too.

What does your work and creative process say about you as a Maker?

I am a very analytical person, and so I always look to improve what I make, I am always assessing the pieces, the process, the decisions I make to try and be better. I do that with clay but also in my personal life. But I also enjoy small things like food, nature or friends a lot, in a very relaxed way. And I think my work, in a way, might be a mix of those things.

How much has your style and approach to your ceramics changed since you started out?

The approach itself hasn’t change much apart from me being more thorough and organised. Since the start I was never fully happy with the pieces themselves, and I was always motivated to improve. Whether it was the forms, the glazes. The style has become more clean and personal, maybe elegant. But it is again as a result of practice and polishing my practice. As I continue to improve my technique and skills, I have to think less and less about how to do things and therefore pieces start to become more true to who I am as a maker or to what I’d like to make.

What top 3 tips would you offer an emerging ceramicist?

I would highlight the importance of having fun learning, and to make mistakes, because it is the best way to learn truly, even if they can be painful in the ceramic world at times. But mostly I’d say to anyone to push themselves further and always try to improve, it doesn’t matter in which aspect of it all. But if you wake up everyday looking forward to doing something better than the day before, you’ll never get bored.

And finally, what would you like to take away from being part of Craft Scotland at Collect 2023?

To me, participating in the show was all about the experience of it. It was about having the opportunity to developing a line of work I had in mind for a long time, to be able to see the work in such a prestigious environment, and about the challenge of using techniques that were new to me. That’s why I wanted to participate in the show, it is what I had hoped to achieve and it’s what I am taking away from it. But also, the motivation to that is to know that the work I’ve created for the show is just a starting point.

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