A beautiful new book by Australian arts, design and lifestyle writer Amber Creswell Bell lifts the delicatley glazed lid on the centuries-old art of pottery and shares work by over 50 ceramicists.
There’s a generation of artisans, working in studios all around the world, who are together demonstrating that the ancient craft of pottery has as much appeal as ever. Their collective output is the symptom perhaps of a much wider movement to restore appreciation for the handmade.
The return is being driven by a new realisation that our ever more digital lives have created a detachment. But a renaissance, a new maker movement is expressing the diversity of crafts such as pottery and bearing the signs of skilled workmanship using techniques both traditional and modern.
‘Clay’, by Amber Creswell Bell is published by Thames & Hudson. It gives a complete overview of the material’s many applications.
(Above and left) Founder of SLIP Ceramics, Jeremy Simons describes clay as an element without limits. His work combines the material with natural textures and defined by a philosophy of recycle and reuse.
(Below) Sophie’s aesthetic is simple, minimalist, focused on neutral tones achieved with a combination of different clays. Mixing her own clay and reusing throwing scraps results in an organic quality defined by subtle variations in the surfaces and finishes of her pieces.
Clay, as a natural material, is tactile and unpredictable and consistently focusing on traditional techniques ensures, Sophie explains, that her work is ‘honest’ and retains ‘some of the energy of the making.’
Photography by Shantanu Starick.
Anna-Karina bases her work on found objects, the pieces simple and organic in form. But she also enjoys the physical interaction with the clay, utilising various techniques.
Photography by Patric Johansson.
“See them, touch them, experience them. The works become a multi-sensorial experience. My breath and spirit are worked into the clay” - Anna-Karina Elias
Porcelain pieces crafted by Belgian artist Thérèse Lebrun are fragile and translucent. She takes the material to its very limits. Collecting everything from bones and fossils to shells and sponges, she creates paper thin forms based on both her finds and imagination. During firing, the organic material inside vaporises leaving only its memory.
Photography by Paul Gruszow.
Akiko Hirai discovered pottery while on a visit to England, during which she enrolled on a short course. She researched two different kinds of ceramics highly appreciated in Japan, a high-fired white slipware and a wood-fired stoneware for which wood ash acts as a natural glaze. Exploring these techniques, she developed her own distinctive style, applying ash directly to the surface of her plates using a transparent glaze. Organic imperfections are celebrated.
Photography by Toshiko Hirai.
MARIA DE HAAN
London-based Maria De Haan creates functional tableware that fuses Asian, Arab and traditional English designs, heavily influenced by her travels. Her most recent and celebrated work is a smoke-fired range. Sculptural, minimalist wheel-thrown pottery pieces are fired in metal barrels using wood, sawdust and natural materials such as salt, fruits and vegetable skins. The materials burning around a pot leave beautiful markings on its clay body that are entirely unique to that vessel. The artist gathers colour inspiration from nature and finds fire recreates it.