Annemarie Gouverne 

Experiment in ceramics

Annemarie Gouverne (1945-1994) graduated in 1967 from the Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. She initially chose the painting and drawing courses, but started following the ceramics course after she attended a lecture on the experimental ceramics of pottery factory De Porceleyne Fles in Delft (where the famous Delftware is manufactured). Later, she recalled she chose the ceramics course because of the potential for monumentality.

First ceramic works

At art school, the focus was on the industrial side of ceramics, while Annemarie Gouverne preferred working with ceramics in an artistic way. After graduating, she finally got the chance to experiment. She moved to Norg in the province of Drenthe, where she had a studio. There she made a lot of small works, like surrealistic sculptures from which mouths, feet and hands emerge. In the same period, she became a teacher of ceramics at the Academie Minerva in the northern city of Groningen.

She was inspired by nature, and made ceramic reliefs of landscapes, bowls and pots with organic motives. An example of this series of works is the Forest pot with a bird from 1977. The relief of this hand-crafted, triangular pot was made with an etched zinc plate and linoleum print. After scattering pigment on the plate, clay was placed on it. Afterwards it was glazed. The ‘forest pot’ is part of the permanent collection of the Drents Museum.

Experiments in the process of creating

Glaze gets its definite colour after oxidation or reduction in the firing process. This colour usually differs from the original. Annemarie Gouverne thought the process of making clay into a stone, glazed product was an indirect way of working. She wrote: “The process of drying, glazing and baking often makes the end result differ from the original design. Think of changes in colour and glaze, cracks and deformation.” She started experimenting to get a grip on the process of creating, for example by using the printing methods as described above. She also started painting and drawing again, because she could influence the final result of those works: “Working spontaneously with form and colour stimulated me to try to do the same in my ceramic works.” She also started to make collages with for instance sand and ripped paper. An example of this is an untitled collage, which has a big frame of mainly grey paper with painted lines. In the middle, ripped pieces of pink and orange paper overlap. These pieces of paper, which are round and veined, are reminiscent of autumn leaves.

The first big sculptures

In 1978, the artist moved back to Groningen. She quit her job as a teacher at the Academie Minerva, because she wanted to work as a full time artist. This was a transitional period, in which she tried to use the experiments to make bigger sculptures. At the beginning of the eighties, she worked for a couple of months at Struktuur 68, a workshop in The Hague specialized in big ceramic works. The result was Grass Sculpture, a solid abstract sculpture with rounded corners and flowing lines. On the blue-greenish surface are white abstract painterly brushstrokes. It consists of several parts, because the entire sculpture did not fit in the oven. Annemarie Gouverne used this inevitable problem to become an intrinsic aspect of the sculpture’s aesthetic composition. This aspect is seen in her later sculptures as well. Grassculptuur was exhibited in the museum of ceramics Princessehof in Leeuwarden in 1984.


After 1984 Annemarie Gouverne became a mother and for a short while, she stopped making big sculptures. However, she continued working on a smaller scale and returned to her first loves, drawing and painting. In this period she made mainly abstract paintings, watercolours and gouaches. An untitled gouache is set in cool blue hues, combined with a striking strong mustard yellow colour. As in most of her works, the organic forms of the dynamic abstract work refer to nature. For the first time, she made oil paintings and started to experiment with this medium. In contrast to previous experiments, these were not meant to be used in her ceramic works.
Force Field is an oil painting which consists of warm colours. The oil paint gives the composition a certain depth. In the middle of the painting is a rectangular field in a cream colour with contours in red. A second, similar rectangular shape is cut off in the left corner below. Because of these big rectangular shapes the work has a more massive feel to it than in the dynamic gouache mentioned above.

Big sculptures

In the second half of the eighties, the artist started making bigger sculptures again. These sculptures, described below, are predecessors of the works she started making in the beginning of the ’90s.

While Grassculptuur has a solid appearance, the artist went on designing vertical, tall sculptures, which consist of several parts, similar to Grassculptuur. One of the first of these monumental works is Terra Africa, a sculpture that is over two meters high with several primitivistic, abstract and detailed shapes in a collage-like composition. Annemarie Gouverne wrote about collage in ceramics a few years earlier: “Applying collage in the technique of ceramics created a method in which I could develop painterly as well as monumental aspects. I used the shards which I kept over the years in a composition to be able to directly use form and colour”.
A similar work is Terra Cotta Una, and was made in the same period. The sculpture has an organic structure with a firm base from which three branches emerge. Here the terra cotta coloured collage is an important aspect of the composition as well.

In 1991, the artist obtained a big studio again, where she could systematically make large scale works. The untitled sculptures she produced here all have round organic shapes and are constructed from several hollow parts. While in Terra Cotta Una and Terra Africa collage and earthy hues are most notable, these sculptures all have a smooth, spotted and transparent surface in mainly pastels. They are abstract, organic shapes, which evoke a  myriad of associations.

These works were scheduled to be shown in a solo exhibition in the MECC (exhibition space and congress hall in Maastricht) in 1994. Unfortunately she was not able to organise it, due to her illness and premature death.