Ceramic artist Hanna Englund is born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden but currently based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After a decade travelling the world as a fashion buyer, Hanna's career took an unexpected turn upon her first experiences with clay. Hanna has an experimental yet modern approach to shape and she draws inspiration from her Scandinavian roots but equally influenced by the tropical aesthetics of everyday life in Brazil. You can find her handmade ceramic pieces on her webshop or at select retailers.
What was your latest book discovery? What are your favorite books of all time?
My latest discovery was De Oroliga (‘Unquiet’) by Linn Ullman, a biography and beautiful portrait of an unusual childhood with her parents, the famous Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullman.
However, since I'm currently obsessing over clay, all my other recent books been about pottery and ceramics; The Ceramics Bible: The Complete Guide to Materials and Techniques, CLAY by Suzanne Staubach and Urban Potters: Makers in the City. I pick up some new skills through books and YouTube videos but mostly through trial and error, I find there are so many “rules” in ceramics that I somehow always tend to break.
One of my favorite books is probably South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami, intensely romantic and will always stay close to my heart. My husband gave me a copy of this book when we just started dating. I met him in Brazil at a time I was currently living and working in Shanghai - so, I read this book on my flight back to China and it probably made me fall even deeper in love with him.
Another fave is Egenmäktigt förfarande (Willful disregard) by Swedish novelist Lena Andersson, a wonderful book about a woman willing to destroy her life for a man who barely acknowledges her.
Most visited blogs, websites? :
Henrik Brandao Jönsson's blog - A Swedish journalist & writer living in Rio, he portrays in an excellent way Brazilian everyday life and politics.
The Way We Play - A Swedish lifestyle magazine and creative studio
Squarespace - I've spent a lot of time there last couple of months building my website, it honestly required more patience and time than expected but now it's finally launched
What apps do you use the most and why?
Podcast & Spotify - I love to listen to podcasts or music while working in the studio (just to name a few of some of my preferred podcasts: En Varg söker sin podd, Stil med Susanne Ljung, Hidden Brain, TED radio hour, 60minuter, The Potters cast...but the list is very long)
Instagram - I'm honestly not sure what my little business would be without it - such an easy and direct way to share my work. I have also connected with my lovely stockists through it, as well as met with other ceramicists.
WhatsApp - for chatting with friends and family.
Camera app - basically only using my iphone for photographing my work for instagram
Whats currently on your playlist?
Some of the songs that I can listen to over and over again:
Cucurrucucu Paloma by Caetano Veloso
I'm On Fire by Chromatics
Le Vent Nous Portera by Noir Desir
Stop Bajon by Tullio De Piscopo
Sea of Love by Cat Power
Don't Wait by Mapei
JE T'ADORE by Alan Vega
Plain Gold Ring by Nina Simone
The Ship Song by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Fade Into You by Mazy Star
Mi Mujer by Nicolas Jaar
Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac
Lacy Calm by Cocteau Twins
Billie Holiday by Warpaint
M'Bife by Amadou & Mariam
So Still by Lou Doillon
Avalanche by Leonard Cohen
In Spite of Me by Morphine
Samskeyti - live by Sigor Ros
Sommarkort by Cornelis Vreeswijk
What records would you recommend to hear?
Lou Doillon's new album Soliloquy
Any record by Nina Simone
Nobody can live forever - the existential soul of Tim Maia by Tim Maia
Kvinnor och barn by Frida Hyvönens
Tindersticks by Tindersticks
Ceremony by Anna Von Hausswolff
In Our Nature by José González
Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
High Violet by The National
Fresh movie finds? What films do you think everybody should watch?
Not fresh, but here's a list of some of my all time favourites:
Any film by Swedish director Ruben Östlund - the master of social awkwardness. My favourite is probably Involuntary, but Force Majeure and The Square are fantastic films too. I love his interest in the questions of human psychology and group behaviour dynamics - all his films are basically about people trying to avoid losing their dignity.
A Swedish Love Story by Roy Andersson and his Living trilogy, especially Songs from the Second Floor and A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. Films filled with lovely absurdity. No one makes films like him, the long shots with no cut from one angle and the typically Swedish monochrome, grey faded colours. I admire his passion for making films about everyday human weaknesses.
Happiness by Todd Solondz - It's loaded with fantastic performances, especially by incredible Philip Seymour Hoffman. Darkly funny, disturbing and sincere - impossible to watch and feel nothing. Welcome to the Dollhouse by Solondz is a must see too.
Grizzly Man by Werner Herzog is one of the most powerful documentary I've ever seen.
Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart by David Lynch
Time of the Gypsies - Emir Kusturica
Paris, Texas by Wim Wenders
Harold and Maude - Hal Ashby
Persona by Ingmar Bergman
Annie Hall and Manhattan by Woody Allen
Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums by Wes Anderson
Which artists working today do you admire most?
Two young, really talented ceramic artists working today; Nicolette Johnson for her extraordinary vessels and Simone Bodmer Turner for her impressive sculptures.
Swedish photographer Anders Petersen for his intimate documentary style black & white photos - deep respect for his photo project Cafe Lehmitz.
Brazilian artist Marcelo Macedo for his really cool wood, ceramics and street art.
French artist Ines Longevial for her beautiful color combos portraits and can't get enough of the prints & weavings from French painter Lea Augereau.
And as for great source of inspiration and incredible ceramic art and sculptures I also have to mention; Jean H Arp, Barbara Hepworth, Georgia O'Keeffe, Henry Moore and Valentine Schlegel.
Also, Frida Kahlo, Pierre Bonnard, Alice Neel, Henri Matisse, Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt for their beautiful art & paintings
What are some of your tv top tips right now?
With two small kids and all my free-time spent in the studio I don't have time to watch a lot of tv shows, but I recently managed to watch Chernobyl and really liked it.
Curb Your Enthusiasm is probably my number one show of all time. Prettay prettay prettay good. I've had a serious Larry David obsession for many years.
Also loved Amazon's Transparent, about a transgender woman coming out to her adult children. A wonderful bittersweet dysfunctional family, and perfect cast of actors.
Who are you following?
@santuario_botafogo - Rio's most beautiful little lifestyle shop run by Californian designer Dylan Perrigo. It's my first and dearest stockist, so grateful that she was the first one believing in my work
@floatelierbotanico - Stunning botanical concept store run by a cute husband and wife team, a must visit when in São Paulo! @flobotany is their little sister in NYC. So lucky they are my stockists!
@diane_keaton - for the right amount of playful weird and stylishness in her feed. Love her daily outfits and it's refreshing to follow a mature woman, especially on a platform dominated by young people
@leandramcohen (Man Repeller) for her sense of humour & damn-cool outfits, and for being a mum keeping it real on insta
@glazemagazine - ceramics magazine
@maisonnue - Parisian creative studio
@criola___ a cool Brazilian female graffiti street artist!
What tools do you use in your work?
My most important tools are my hands. Having spent over 15 years behind a corporate computer, it feels amazing to create something more tangible that is made with my own two hands. I love that working with clay feels so ancient and primal.
Sponges are really important, too, and Mudtools makes my favorite sponges. They have a really good finish, so when you put it on the surface of what you're doing, it compresses the clay and makes it really smooth and nice.
My husband's tool box; saws, hammers, chisels, knives, yeah you name it when I'm making the ceramic molds cast of real fruits. If some professionally taught potters saw the way I do some things they would probably scream, but it works for me.
My good old Canon EOS 60D camera or my iPhone to photograph my work
What magazines / newspapers do you read regularly?
My current obsession is vintage Ceramics Monthly magazines from the 70’s - I was lucky enough to inherit a big pale of them from my beloved pottery Mastre.
As for news; Guardian, Dagens Nyheter and Folha de São Paulo or The Intercept Brazil
Before moving to Brazil I was a huge consumer of fashion and interior design magazines but nowadays I'm only occasionally read Vogue Brasil, Casa Vouge and whenever I get my hands on Styleby (Swedish)
What are your favorite gadgets?
Babybjörn (baby carrier) when I want to work but my 7-months baby wants to be hold.
I'm addicted to Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream. Working with clay is wonderful for the mind and body, but it’s terrible for the skin since it really sucks all the moisture out of your hands. So a really good hand lotion is insanely essential for me.
Men's Coverall from Dickies. You get so dirty with ceramics, so it’s nice to have a full cover over your clothing, especially now when it's winter here in Brazil. But rest of the year, my everyday uniform is simply a pair of denim shorts, a tee and flip flops - you don't need more really. My years in Rio has given me a much-needed distance to consumption in general, and also taught me to appreciate the simple things in life - which is pretty easy when almost everyday is sunny, I mean just such thing as being able to go for a walk on the beach and enjoy a fresh coconut every morning.
Whenever I remember, I bring a reusable metal straw for my daily coconut, to ditch the single-use plastic waste.
ARTICLE INFO & CREDITS