Claudia Lis

Stolen Moments Claudia LisMy portrait of Claudia was taken at The Hive in Shrewsbury on 10 October 2015 just prior to a Shrewsbury Jazz-promoted Asaf Sirkis Band concert.

Having successfully completed a three year apprenticeship in Studio Ceramics in 1996 Claudia was awarded a ‘Leonardo da Vinci Travel Bursary’, which enabled her to move to the UK. Once here she worked for seven years as first assistant to a British ceramic artist before setting up her own studio in Wales in 2004. She says: “I have focussed on developing a quiet body of celadon wares inspired by examples of Oriental stoneware and porcelain vessels.” Her work comprises pieces which come to life functionally as much as they are appreciated aesthetically as part of her still life assemblies.

Over the years her work has been widely exhibited. Some of the highlights include the showing of her work at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC, and the Saatchi Gallery and the Royal College of Art in London.

She is a Fellow of the CPA (Craft Potters Association) which is the national body of British ceramic professionals and recipient of the ‘Creative Wales Award 2012/13’ from the Arts Council of Wales.

Claudia’s interest in jazz was sparked by witnessing a performance by two female jazz musicians at The International Jazz Festival Viersen (see the second of her Take Five choices). This laid the foundation for her on-going love of live jazz.

In an effort to escape the isolation of being a full time craftsperson Claudia joined Shrewsbury Jazz Network. She says: “With new arrivals on the committee to spread the workload I was able to fully focus on my main role of ‘Band Liaison, Bookings & Hospitality’, which involves all dealings with the band from initial application stage, band selection, programming, bookings, preparation and co-ordination of the concert nights through to tying up various loose ends.” Her engagement with Shrewsbury Jazz Network has become an essential but very rewarding part of her life. It’s her second (unpaid) job.

Somehow she has also found time to begin learning to play alto saxophone and has just taken her first exam, Grade 4, “with a squeaky reed”. “The house next door is still empty,” she says. Could this have anything to do with her acquisition of a “new toy”? Her first drum kit!

Take Five

Claudia recommends the following 5-a-day:

Walk Cheerfully, a silent 1930s Japanese gangster movie directed by Yasujiro Ozu – a humorous love story of a petty criminal who changes his ways on discovering true love with a sincere young woman.  In April 2013 I was very fortunate to be guest at a special showing at the BFI. On this occasion a soundscape for the movie was created and performed live by London musician Clive Bell who specialises in Japanese woodwind instruments. He was supported by the actress Tomoko Komura who – as one of the few still existing ‘Benshi’ – acted out a live voice-over that involved lending all characters distinct voices whilst also doubling up as narrator. A wonderful amalgamation of the three art forms of film, music and live acting – outright beautiful!  In the onslaught of life’s challenges “walk cheerfully!” has become my favourite slogan, with which I sign most of my correspondence.

Looking for Love, a 1987 recording of a live performance by Portuguese jazz singer Maria João and Japanese pianist Aki Takase; a very personal album to me, as it was recorded in the first year of their musical collaboration, in which I coincidentally had the pleasure to see them at the International Jazz Festival Viersen in my German hometown; I hold both of them responsible for getting me hooked on jazz. A nice twist to the story: during my alto sax practices for my Grade 4 exam I was accompanied by a musician friend on her piano – which was once owned by Aki Takase!

Jig Doll, a lyrical one-person stage show created and performed by Hannah James, combining vocals, accordion, foot percussion and incredibly energetic clog dance; a contemplation of the transient nature of performing arts and ultimately, life itself. An impressively creative young artist!

Yufuku Gallery (Tokyo, Japan), a virtual visit to my favourite gallery featuring the work of wonderfully skilled ceramic artists who display great sensitivity in the way they translate their ideas into clay.  Please pay special attention to S. Nagae, A. Maeta, K. Moriyama and Y. Byong-uk.

Italian Short Stories, a 2014 recording by saxophonist Tommaso Starace’s Italian Quartet playing original compositions inspired by photographs of Gianni Berengo Gardin.  Come and see Tommaso together with pianist Michele Di Toro performing at Shrewsbury Jazz Network in September 2016 – you will have a great night whilst helping us to keep live jazz a feature of British culture!

Links to Claudia’s ceramics:

Photo and words © Garry Corbett

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