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Ursula Munch-Petersen (f. 1937) is the fourth generation of the Bornholm potter family, Hjorth, which also includes the sisters Lisbeth Munch-Petersen (Ursula’s mother) and Gertrud Vasegaard. Ursula Munch-Petersen trained as a ceramicist at Kunsthåndværkerskolen (the Danish Design School) in Copenhagen between 1956 and 1960. After a brief period of employment at the family factory on Bornholm, she was engaged in 1961 at Bing & Grøndahl Porcelain Manufactory’s experimenting workshop. Here she was given a free hand to make one-off pieces and sculptural ceramics that were shown at the factory exhibitions in Denmark and abroad.
In 1968 Ursula Munch-Petersen abandoned her career at Bing & Grøndahl to become a self-employed ceramicist. From that time on her work has focussed – by means of simple materials and techniques – on developing beautiful and functional everyday items that possess the sculptural qualities of one-off pieces.
A characteristic feature of Ursula Munch-Petersen’s working method is her continuous experimentation and bringing into question the objects that we surround ourselves with. To her, the things we usually take for granted always contain new possibilities of being developed, improved and made more beautiful.
In long, experimenting studies Ursula Munch-Petersen asks fundamental questions – such as what it takes for a pot to be a pot, or how fast can you throw a beautiful and functional vase. One result of her experiments may be 100 dishes or ”an army of pitchers” which assume the character of an installation when exhibited together. Through these experiments she discovers new forms which she uses as the starting point for developing new ceramic everyday items that can be put into production.
Ursula Munch-Petersen wants her things to be used. To be of significance. As functional products that can actually be used in everyday life or in public space while at the same time possessing the qualities of one-off pieces. For this reason she insists on taking part in all stages of the development process – not only the creative development, but also the technical development as well as financial and marketing considerations to ensure that her final products are indeed available to anybody. One of her designs is the dinner set ‘Ursula’ for Royal Scandinavia.
Ursula Munch-Petersen draws her inspiration from nature or from observation of trivial things. Thus a wood shaving may be the inspiration for a pot, the colours and shapes of bird feathers may be the inspiration for dishes, and lakes may be the inspiration for sculptures.
Ursula Munch-Petersen, foto Akhøj