Portrait d'Armel Hédé par Isabelle Larrey
Photo: Isabelle Larrey

Born on the 26th of February, 1955 in DINAN (Bretagne), Armel Hédé is a professional ceramist and autodidact.

  • Turning initiation in 1974 in Paris with Cyril Dor.
  • Workshop in Pleudihen (Côtes d’Armor) until 1982 – earthenware and stoneware craft.
  • In 1978, close-knit collaboration with the dutch engraver and painter Hans Van Draanen (shape and scenery research)
  • In 1983, installation of the workshop on his native soil in Saint Juvat (Côtes d’Armor) and start of porcelain crafting.
  • In 1989, additional research on smoked porcelain.

Every work is unique, dated and signed.

“Of course, like many ceramists, I started by making utilitarian pieces, which, combined with just 16 hours of tuition with Cyril Dor in 1975, gave me the technical mastery and the gusto required to immerse myself in working with porcelain. I’ve always been fascinated with the Chinese Southern Song period, and, being self-taught, my acquired knowledge has given me a great deal of freedom to try and get to grips with their skills without succumbing to the heavy influence of any particular model.   My only model is nature, in which I like to immerse myself, whether it’s in my garden or on a Breton shore. From nature I draw, by osmosis, some truly artistic effects. The shapes, very classical at first, develop following sketches (like my current chrysalises or beetles discovered near my pond) or by the simple natural play of turning, which allows for the shapes to evolve spontaneously towards other volumes and new balances. The decor, its design and its materials also come from nature: monochrome, cherry red, foliage green, slate black, speckled white like a quail’s egg, but above all a wide variety of celadons from the marriage of sky and sea, spread over fine incisions of wild grasses or ocean waves, smoky porcelains too, raku style – another facet of my work – more contrasting, more eventful, linked perhaps to the spectacle of kelp fields at low tide, like the heavy clouds of marine storms.

My insatiable passion drives me ever further, both in the search for enamels and in the direction of larger volumes. To make myself known, I take part in potters’ markets and visit a few galleries, but while these encounters are necessary, I do not let them detract from the continuity of my inner approach or my taste for independent research. Our biggest problem is that – by what mystery? – ceramics is not recognised in France as a major art form, to the same degree as painting, as it is in many other countries, even in Europe, and that it does not benefit from adequate channels of influence. France is rich in excellent ceramists, and Brittany is not the least rich of its regions: it’s up to enthusiasts to discover them.”

Interview par Jean-François Juillard

“Armel HEDE was born in Brittany at Saint-Juvat, near Dinan, on the site of the ancient Falun Sea, immersed in coloured earth and fossilised stone.
It is there that he creates his work as a ceramist in the middle of his land:

The primordial clay that keeps him standing. The orange ochre of the plots, sown with festivals and harvests. The eternal fiancée of the stone houses. The black and fat nourisher of the vegetable gardens. The hunchback who traces the paths of the journey and the return, with in her ideal luggage a beautiful stranger, immaculate, rebellious and fragile: “porcelain flesh”.

In the hollow path of his hands, it spins, dances, refines, pushes, advances and swirls into the hearth. He caresses the belly of the kiln, blows with the flames and the pure forms rise from their ashes. The porcelain flesh becomes bark, parchment, diaphanous petals, or Celadon grass…”.

André Schetritt

There are : the one that sparkles at night, the one that sings in the morning, the one that the light makes translucent, the one that becomes light when you grab it, the one on which the enamel has cried tears of blood, the one that is clearer than the waters of a lake, the one where the waves roar, … the one that the fire has bitten, the one that wraps itself around the void or soars towards infinity, the one that rests on a small foot, the one that shines at the top, … the one that is brief like a haiku, the one that has the moon in its grip, the one that dances without moving… and the one that I saw and the one that I took in my hands, because it was her. “

Romane Pétroff

“In every work of art, there is God’s part. In every ceramic, there is the part of fire. But it’s up to the potter to tame and master the flame. Armel Hédé does this magnificently. Ever since I met him, I’ve been amazed by his achievements.

After creating pieces reminiscent of the porcelain of Song China, after successfully achieving the ‘oxblood’ glazes – the touchstone of every porcelain maker – he embarked on new experiments, new adventures. And out of these experiments and adventures came light, fragile vases, their sides dripping with gold and mottled colours,

Armel Hédé is a creator, with all that the word implies in terms of imagination, daring and taste.”

François Duret-Robert