From her studio in north-west London, multi-disciplinary artist, Serena Korda, creates diverse works of art and sculpture, inspired by her fascination with folklore, mythology and storytelling. She talks to curator and art historian, Vanessa Boni, about her desire to rethink classical myths through a feminist lens.



Artist Serena Korda, photographed by Chris Egon Searle 


London-born artist Serena Korda is known for her multidisciplinary approach encompassing sculpture, sound, and live performance, with an unyielding fascination for reimagining the women of ancient myths. Since the pandemic, Serena has returned to a studio-based practice, with ceramics taking centre stage in her most recent work.

Far from utilitarian objects, Serena's ceramics are vessels through which narratives unfold and agency can be reclaimed. Growing up in a suburb of north west London in the 1990s London, television shows and her mother's Vogue magazines became gateways to the realms of fashion, music, and dance beyond the humdrum of everyday life. These nascent cultural influences began to shape Serena's artistic consciousness.


A necklace fit for a giantess: 'And She Cried Me a River', Serena Korda, 2022, Thomas Dane Gallery © Roberto Salomone


Personal storytelling was also an important feature of Serena’s upbringing; her father was a Holocaust survivor. As such, she intimately understood the significance of storytelling as a way to preserve familial and historical legacies.

Serena reflects, “mythology became an extension of this personal connection to storytelling, and on discovering that there were essentially only seven stories in the world being told and retold in the same ways I became hooked on these archetypal figures that seem to be an intrinsic part of all of us.


The Maidens, Cooke Latham Gallery, 2023 © Max Gorbatskyi 


Guided by the transformative power of storytelling, Serena’s worldbuilding revolves around diverse narratives of womanhood and the ceramic objects serve as the artifacts of this matriarchal culture. From the necklace of a Giantess to Bellarmine ritual jugs, her sculptures are meticulously crafted and imbued with symbolism.

She combines ancient myth with the nuanced realities of being a woman in the 21st century. “Rethinking classical myth through a feminist lens feels urgent because I have a young daughter and I asked myself [whether I was] going to continue to tell these stories to her in the same way?" Serena tells Cabana. 

Inspired by the marvel of Rocco marble statues and their depiction of translucent veils shrouding figurative forms in the Chapel of San Severo in Naples, Serena created a series of sculptures that experimented with the illusion of folding fabrics in solid clay, pushing the boundaries of what the material could do.

In Serena’s artistic universe, myth, ritual, and feminist politics are channelled through the alchemy of ceramics. Serena is drawn to the fluidity and malleability of clay itself. “It’s mud, its alive,” she says. “Animism is there, but that is integral to it rather than what the work is about.” Clay, for her, is a medium that allows thinking through making – it is an experimental process. “Sometimes things break, I embrace that too.”


The Maidens, Cooke Latham Gallery, 2023 © Max Gorbatskyi


Serena is currently preparing a new series of sculptures that depict the bodies of real women at menopausal or post-menopausal age, a stage of female life notoriously underrepresented. “The witch, the crone, the hag are pejorative words that have repressed women and have written them into the narrative of society as useless,” she explains. “As I am stepping into that space, I want to challenge that baggage.”


Serena is preparing a new series of sculptures that depict the bodies of real women at a stage of female life notoriously underrepresented © Jesse Roth

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