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monsters and flowers

This is Saturday, time for croissants, blue flowers, wind and free thoughts.

This is how I woke up, stretched and rubbed my eyes, rolled out of bed and 10 minutes after went to the near greenhouse to find my missing flowers. With a scarf and a red jacket, but the feeling that it still can be warmer, it still can be sunnier, and with some coins in my pocket I bought some croissants.

Maria Ortiz Gil is cleaning the worktable, a floorboard on iron trestles, when I enter her beautiful and light workshop. Situated on Bautzener Straße 8, the workshop may be slightly hidden from the crowd but only a couple of minutes from the S+U-Bahn Yorkstraße and in the area new art galleries and colourful bars are silently opening.

The world of Tontonton, as the shop is named, is a world of sea creatures and imagination, it is the form of fantasy bound to clay and self-discipline.
Working with clay, as Maria Ortiz Gil confirms with her work, is the opportunity to create almost everything. Before the market even comes into discussion, all usually starts with a trial of strength between this promising openness of possibilities and the rationality and discipline of the craftsman/woman. Decorations hanging on an empty wall, an aquarium with ageless scorpions, cups and teapots, pots and immobile flowers vibrate of her experience and versatility. What you see in the workshop is just the result of the struggle.

 As I put down the croissants on the table, she has already taken out home-made marmalade and butter on a rustic tableware made of white sheet; a couple of minutes later, she is showing me her new project.
The new project has a history of drawings on the wall, the plaster stamp made using an old mirror as support, the first prototypes, the lock that needs to be quickly fixed with the help of a sharp little knife, the rules, laws and traditions that governs the usage of this new vessel, the processing of clay for this purpose, the eternal question for all artisans: is this project going to find a place into the market, am I going to sell it well?  

The attention of Maria seems focused on experimentation and play, on the forms and usages. The colours are soft and pastel, light greens, light salmon pinks covered by blank glaze are shown together with the darker mixture of mangle and copper, which gives the black a red and metallic lustre.
The small aquariums host no real fishes or crabs – nevertheless they seem to have more life than the real ones you usually see at the restaurant, near to your table, dancing in their huge prisons of glass; the flowers in the vase are immortal (unlike my all-too-mortal- flowers on the windowsill), still and open.
Maria works also with carved thin forms, and fascinating robotic machines that would make your cabinet of curiosities more precious.

She seems peaceful, moving around and picking up dishes, while I look at the weird tools and the dried pale cups arranged on the shelves. The croissants with butter and cheese are as good as always, and before I leave I stare a long time at her small cups with plankton drawings. I like the spontaneity, apparent simplicity of such a vessel for olives and crème caramel, chocolate and candied almonds and I know that, sooner or later, I will come back here.

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