artist delphine bekaert talks to via about her journey from the contemporary art scene to becoming a ceramic designer in puglia
Story by: Eleonora Betesh
Perfection has long lost its meaning in a contemporary sense. Former art gallerist delphine bekaert could certainly attest that, having changed her entire lifestyle from the fast track in search for something else – something that gives life a daily voyage of discovery.
As the name suggests, delphine was not born in puglia nor was she raised here. Like many internationalists that relocated to puglia, delphine owned a successful business. She was a seasoned gallerist in belgium, at the crossroads of culture, attending international art fairs where familiar faces and business exchanges were the order of the day over the course of a decade.
Her connection to contemporary art morphed into something completely different, though. Love took her on a journey, she gave birth to her daughter lucy and while on holiday in puglia, she found an old property in a rustic plot of land that was to be her home. “now what?” She thought.
Delphine was fascinated – borderline obsessed – with glass and tableware, buying one-off pieces at markets until she amassed a collection so vast that it suddenly made more sense to create them herself. And so, last year, she bought an oven and stocks of clay and began experimenting – no formal training, no wheels. She scrapped the first 50 pieces she made until she nailed the shape of her craft.
Delphine has a very playful and light-hearted spirit, and coming from the art world it is quite a change. Anyone who is someone in the industry knows that today’s scene is more about business and less about the actual art. It’s one of the reasons that she is reluctant to build her brand on a global scale despite encouragement from prominent names in the design world.
Looking down the stairs from the ground floor to the cave, the studio seems suspended in mid-air. Descending the narrow staircase is like traversing into another time and space. Fresh designs are set to dry on tray carts as they take on their intended form and color. Her style is at once primitive and almost infantile yet it is endearingly playful, aesthetic and practical.
To say that each piece is made with passion is an understatement: it is formed by inspiration most of us are obliged to find in a meditation app during lunch break. The rural setting generously offers magical landscapes with wallpaper-like scenery, the light that emanates from the apulian sky, and the sound of nina simone’s voice in the background.
A team of women from the nearby town helps her to prepare exclusive, custom orders that require three months to complete – a maximum of three orders at a time. Where white ceramic serves as a blank canvas on which to emphasize culinary compositions, special pigments that delphine mixes herself, infuse joy: grey, light pink, yellow, mint green, and blue. Each piece – plates, bowls, cutlery, cups and coasters – is unique and built to last. Delphine calls it, ‘honest tableware handmade with an edgy elegance and a unique twist.’