Kristina Brandeus Kirkkopelto works on one of her ceramic fountains. Kirkkopelto is in Vernon as part of the CeramAIR residency at the Caetani Cultural Centre and the Vernon Community Arts Centre. - Photo submitted

Kristina Brandeus Kirkkopelto works on one of her ceramic fountains. Kirkkopelto is in Vernon as part of the CeramAIR residency at the Caetani Cultural Centre and the Vernon Community Arts Centre. - Photo submitted

Caetani artist in residence picks up the pieces

Ceramics artist Kristina Brandeus Kirkkopelto emerges from breakup with decorative artware intact

Life incidents often shape an artist’s response to his or her materials and images.

In Kristina Brandeus Kirkkopelto’s case, the ending of a long-term relationship that had not been notably marred by arguments or discord, except when it came to home decorating, was the catalyst for a series of new works.

“He wanted really sterile and clean furniture, and I wanted colours and just pretty much the opposite of his style in general,” said Kirkkopelto, who is currently in Vernon as part of the Caetani Culture Centre and Vernon Community Arts Centre’s CeramAIR artist residency.

After living in this relationship, where everything about decorating the home was a compromise and unsatisfying, the Finnish-born, Swedish-based ceramics artist longed for creating objects and furniture she always wanted. She dreamt of creating fountains, garden accessories, cookie jars, and furniture such as a ceramic-base livingroom table.

Many of her objects have been inspired by Andy Warhol’s collection.

“I started working with ceramic sculpture in relation with the functioning aspect of fountains. I wanted to make sculptures where the fountain would act as the scene for the tale which I wanted to tell,” said Kirkkopelto. “Later on, my ideas surrounding the fountain evolved, and instead of using it only as a platform or a base, the idea of a ceramic object and a fountain that were interdependent of each other became more interesting.

“I discovered that by combining these two elements equally, it would exaggerate what I wanted to tell with my pieces. I want to further discover to what extent I can use this interdependence.”

Kirkkopelto’s work is described as fresh, charming, humorous and a little bit dark.

“The fountain adds an element of surprise and humour to my sculptures,” she said. “I believe this sort of fun function is something to dig deeper into. I would like my ceramic objects to use function in such a sophisticated way that they are mainly pieces of art rather than functioning objects.”

Titles are another important part of the pieces. A cute and kitschy sculpture can, with the right title, suddenly become something with a deeper meaning, said Kirkkopelto, who likes to work with multiple objects, where individual titles can tell stories when placed together.

This desire to create colourful objects, which would be out of the ordinary and amazing for any adventurous decorator to have in their home, provided the impetus behind Kirkkopelto’s current residency. She hopes to use her time in Vernon to hone her artistic and professional skills, while experiencing Canadian culture.

Originally born in Kymmenedalen, Finland, Kirkkopelto has lived in Sweden since 1994. In 2016, she graduated from the Academy of Arts and Crafts in Gothenburg, majoring in ceramic art. In 2015, she attended the Exchange at Dunedin School of Art, in New Zealand. Her work has been exhibited in several group shows in Sweden and New Zealand.

Kirkkopelto gives an exhibition to showcase her work in the new Caetani Studio Gallery at the Caetani Cultural Centre, 3401 Pleasant Valley Rd. Vernon, Thursday, March 30 at 7 p.m.

The public is also invited to sign up for a clay workshop given by Kirkkopelto at the Vernon Community Arts Centre (VCAC) Saturday, April 1. She will give an artist talk and discussion of her work April 5 at 7 p.m., also at the VCAC, located at the east entrance to Polson Park adjacent to the Okanagan Science Centre.

For more information, contact the Caetani Cultural Centre at 250-275-1525, or visit

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