Christien Van Bussell studied at the National Art College Minerva in Groningen, Holland for five years, beginning with the study of watercolours and illustration. She now combines her ceramic work with woodturning of finely crafted mainly functional wood pieces. When she first came to Ireland in 1997 she started teaching woodturning in Aravon School in Bray. Woodturning is similar to turning plaster, it came easy to her, and she applied a complimentary design ethos to her approach to ceramics. Making pieces for daily use like bowls, platters and boxes. She work with local timbers and often use ceramic details to enhance the strong and monumental shapes of the wooden pieces. She also uses colouring, carving, and other decorating techniques to complete forms.
In addition to turning her own pieces, she teaches pupils between 8 and 13 years who choose woodturning as an extra activity. As a maker she acknowledges that it is very rewarding to see how much pleasure the young people get out of making things, and she is pleased to be able to pass on her leaning and skills. She is a member of the Woodturners Guild and gives regular demonstrations.
At the concept board, Christien begins her designs with simple shapes and strong lines. Influenced by the work of Ettore Sottass who makes monumental shapes for daily use ceramics, shape is the most important part of her work. Colour and sometimes a simple decoration are only to emphasise the shape of the piece. She also gets ideas from modern architecture, and admires architects like Calatrava. Having seen his amazing buildings in Valencia, she has observed shapes, lines and combinations of colour she would like to use to make new pieces. During the process of making her pieces she keeps a close eye on the balance and uses repetition of shapes to create interesting well balanced work.