Yoyo Balagué

Over the coming months we’ll be using our platforms to feature some of the many incredible women that inspire us. First up is ceramicist and land artist Yolanda (Yoyo) Balagué, who has curated and modelled our latest Edit. I first met Yoyo 10 years ago and was immediately struck by her individual, minimalist style. She just oozes cool. Back then, Yoyo was working in fashion, but after 25 years was grappling with having fallen out of love with the industry but not knowing what to do next. Many times I have felt the same - fashion is too fast and bad - and I have often thought about leaving it. As you saw in Fashion Reimagined, I ultimately decided to stay and try and make a change, but I can completely understand the decision to leave when it no longer sits right. (And hey, I’m still only 16 years in, so maybe I have 10 years of fighting to go!) Thankfully, Yoyo has since found peace in her work as a ceramicist and artist - taking inspiration from the beach and exuberant Mediterranean landscape that surrounds her in northeastern Spain. Following her from a stylish fashion human to now a fully fledged artist, who goes to the beach and gets her hands stuck in the earth, I am so happy to see someone I care about experiencing so much joy. And all these years later, she’s still creating things that I swoon over - beautiful ceramics and paintings, fuelled by a deep passion for and respect for the natural world. Given both of our commitments to celebrating Mother Earth, it was the perfect collaboration to come together and see MOP through Yoyo and photographer Nereis Ferrer’s creative eyes. Here, Yoyo shares some insights into her life and work. Enjoy!

Love, Amy x

“Q: As a multidisciplinary artist, your work spans both paintings and ceramics. How would you describe your art?”


Someone once asked me to describe my work in three words, which was hard! But after thinking deeply I said: pure, honest and austere. I always want to give my soul to the object. I often feel that my paintings explore the depths of the sea, while my ceramics help me to be more earthy. The relationship between ceramics and painting in my work is very particular. What I do with clay is not the same as what I do with paint, but there is a curious relationship between them.


“Q: You grew up in Baix Emporda, Catalunya, the capital of which, La Bisbal, is famous for its ceramic pottery. Is this what inspired you to work with ceramics?”


In a way, yes, and I trained as a ceramist at the renowned ceramics school of La Bisbal. However, I have been more attracted to the concept of using the local clay (terracotta clay) than to the actual ceramics of La Bisbal. But of course, I have respect for the long-standing tradition of the area.

“Q: Why are so many artisans drawn to this region?”


Exactly! The Alt and Baix Empordà is well known for being a refuge for many artists. The pictorial tradition of this region dates back to the late Nineteenth Century and if we talk about ceramics, since the Eighteenth Century in the area of La Bisbal. It’s a peaceful area, where you are completely surrounded by the sea, the mountains, the rivers… It’s also really well located, close to France and big cities like Barcelona. And the light is hypnotic, its intensity and brightness is special. So no doubt at all that it is a perfect place to be inspired by.


“Q: How has growing up surrounded by mountains and pine-clad hills, near the Mediterranean sea, influenced your love of nature?”


It came naturally as I have grown up, as you say, surrounded by this privileged landscape. That’s why it’s the source of my inspiration and I’m happy that I’m able to both live in this environment, and work with and in nature.

Q: You describe yourself as a land artist, working within and with nature. Can you tell us more about how you work with nature and natural materials?

I always feel driven by the need to create objects that add a sense of calming poetry, hence the concept of bringing the sea into my pieces. I collect algae from the various beaches around where I live and use them for firing together with wood, which I collect from the forest near home. And, of course, the terracotta clay is from La Bisbal.


“Q: Your background is in textile design. Can you tell us a bit about your career journey?”

I studied Fine Arts and I would say I entered the world of fashion a bit by chance. Then I stayed there for a while, well, for about 25 years! I worked in the selection and development of fabrics and trends, for big name companies like Bassols, Inditex (Zara Studio and Massimo Dutti) and Mango. Leaving fashion, I became an artist with painting and engravings in the mid 90s while living in Barcelona.


“Q: What is your relationship with fashion and textiles today?”

Fashion has gone from being a necessity to something that is more throwaway. This is not how I see it, I am very sober, selective and my philosophy is to give a long life to my garments. I just hope that soon there will be a massive increase in awareness and that consumers will become more demanding of the brands they buy from.


“Q: Why do you love Mother of Pearl?”

First of all, for the love, great affection, respect and admiration that I have for Amy, and secondly for the wonderful evolution that the brand has made in line with Amy's philosophy. Achieving this great challenge is worthy of admiration, especially considering that we are talking about a very complicated and complex sector. So double admiration!

“Q: What are your favourite MOP pieces from your edit?”

Hard to choose one, but here goes! The Dolly black jacket.


“You say on your website that “nature drives my soul”. We’d love to know more!”

Nature inspires me, captures me and gives me peace.


“Q: How does sustainability factor into your life and work?”

Living in a small town means that your life is often more minimal and simple, and I always try to buy local to support the community. I take advantage of nature's rhythm when choosing my food and I have been vegetarian for many years. In my work, I’m looking for the essence in my pieces – every piece is handmade and unique. I bring my soul to them and the whole process is sustainable, from sourcing local clay and the materials I use to pit fires from the forest and beaches around my studio.


We use cookies to enhance your shopping experience. By continuing using the website we assume that you agree to the use of these cookies. For more information check our Privacy Policy. OK, GOT IT