“Sootcookie”, a term derived from the Afrikaans word for “sweet biscuit”, appears to be the ideal fit for Tanya Laing’s quirky, somewhat nostalgic, range of ceramic functional and decorative ware. Drawing inspiration from South Africa’s visual landscape, Laing’s range includes pieces baked in a kiln, while others have been finished by hand.
We asked Laing a a few questions about her work:
Where does your overall inspiration derive from?
My inspiration can be found anywhere. From my granny's china cabinet, with her precious antique china pieces to items found at places like the Milnerton Market. I also find the character expression of Japanese animation created with simple lines amazing and inspirational. Furthermore, the ceramic medium itself is inspiring as there are so many possibilities when working with it. Finally, the day-to-day imagery of South African life continues to inspire my work.
Your designs seem to evoke a nostalgic response, is this intentional?
I like to create juxtapositions between the aesthetics of traditional ceramics with contemporary objects and ideas. In some of my pieces there is a resonance with things that are familiar, things we may have seen growing up, but contrasted in an unusual way creating something new.
What was the inspiration behind the sootcookie Bunny?
The sootcookie Bunny forms part of the "Sootcookie animals" range. The Rabbit character is often called the Space Bunny because its metallic mask is reminiscent of a typical space suit. He is an ambiguous whimsical little guy. Each animal is hand finished so create an individual character.
What was the inspiration behind your functional ware collection (the paper plates and polystyrene cups)?
The way that the world has progressed since the industrial revolution has placed an emphasis on mass-produced, throw-away items that encourage people to keep buying. I wanted to highlight and challenge this by producing a range of "throw away" products that are re-usable and precious.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a range of lighting that uses translucent porcelain objects as shades, together with chandelier components. It includes ceramic and mixed media bases in the traditional sootcookie style. I am also developing a ceramic range with Wolf & Maiden that includes a ceramic hand grenade mug and espresso mug embellished with gold detailing and floral prints. Furthermore, I am in the process of producing more sootcookie characters to add to the mix.