We have made ceramic items for millennia: taking rough clay and shaping it into useful vessels and objects of devotion. Ceramics appear all over the world – at least where there is a raw material to utilise! – and they have played an integral part in our lives for countless generations.
The art of the ceramicist is truly ancient and also ongoing, a skill passed down, reinvigorated and renewed as each generation learns, takes the baton and passes it on. And this journey, this continual progression, is apparent in every home in the country. You don’t have to look far to see the all-encompassing nature of ceramics, in the pieces we utilise every day and in those we treasure. And as we use and appreciate our vessels we can see very easily the functional and decorative items of our forebears not only in our display cabinets and in antique shops but by simply digging in our own back gardens and when walking along the beaches and river banks of the UK. Here you can see the fragments of the once functional and prized items of the past slowly being denuded, beaten by the spade and the plough, the wave and the pebble, returned to the earth from which they sprang.
Ceramics used to be very much site-specific, the styles of pot created dictated by the clay available in the vicinity of the potter and the fuel to fire it to sufficient temperatures, although pots of course were traded across ancient borders and seas. Nowadays a potter has access to every kind of raw material and this is immediately apparent when you see the range of work produced by the ceramicists on Seek & Adore. Stoneware, earthenware and porcelain all joyfully and fully represented by our talented makers.
What we have lost in the old-fashioned locally sourced materials we have gained in the explosion of creativity forged by makers having the opportunity to work in the medium that suits them best. This is a fantastic breakthrough. And with our modern global community makers can source, discover and learn techniques pioneered and perfected anywhere in the globe. At every UK ceramics event or craft fair you will find Oriental inspired pottery being produced in the Cotswolds, South American inspired ceramics produced in Cornwall or the finest porcelain produced in Hackney!
With this development there is now a style of pottery, a style of ceramic to suit all tastes and all purses and we can easily eschew the cheap and uninspiring mass-produced piece for the handmade, artisan item. My home is full of them and I love every one!
Here is a glimpse of what Seek & Adore offers the die-hard collector, the ‘newby’ and the simply inquisitive.
Lisa Katzenstein – Small Twist Vase – Bluebells, £65.00
Lisa Katzenstein‘s earthenware pieces are so distinctive! When I first saw her work on a stand at one of the many UK craft fairs I stopped in my tracks. I was stunned. It is Lisa’s graphic style and her bold use of colour that makes her work so appealing and immediately recognisable. This piece shows bluebells yet seen through Lisa’s very keen eye the sky to me is as vivid and livid as any I saw in my travels in Australia a few years ago. Lisa makes the ordinary look immediately exotic.
Lucy Burley – Small Violet Blue Bottle, £25.00
It is Lucy Burley’s simplicity of form and colour that appeals to me about her work. No extraneous decoration here, these white earthenware pieces succeed or fail on their purity. This is risky! Lucy has a wonderful eye for coloured glazes and for form however and all her pieces co-ordinate both in tone and shape. Lucy’s work is universal and utterly timeless.
Georgina Fowler – Medium Wide Blue Cage Butterfly Vessel, £68.00
Georgina Fowler‘s earthenware creations are slip-cast and then decorated with her very distinctive designs. Georgina’s world is inspired by the story and the fairy tale and it is not unusual to see horses in silhouette running around the inside of her pieces, butterflies flying in great swarms, and black cats surrounded by cages or clocks. Alongside this her forms are sometimes slightly twisted, a step beyond ‘true’, expressing her very unique and magical view of the world.
Alan Birchall – Oblong Dish, £60.00
Alan Birchall works with the most extraordinary precision. Each of his stoneware pieces is carefully constructed and his quality of finish is exquisite. Here is work reminiscent of ancient Chinese forms but there is also a hint in this piece of classic Chinese roofs with the up-turned corners of the rim. Alan’s work has an innate power borne of its simplicity and its quiet, unassuming, contemplative quality.
Alison Jones – Tripot Wall Vase, £92.00
Alison Jones‘ pieces are utterly striking, shapely, vari-coloured, sinuous and asymmetric. This is difficult to achieve, Alison builds all these vessels by hand, each section rolled separately and then combined – or should I say constructed – to create these carefully balanced and unusual forms. But the work doesn’t stop there, she then colours and decorates them by hand with the utmost care. White stoneware is manipulated by Alison and rendered unrecognisable by her intense and time-consuming techniques.
Cressida Borrett – Allium Medium Sized Wonky Dish, £55.00
Cressida Borrett’s pieces are inspired by the natural world and her shapes and their finish evoke this organic quality. Using off-white stoneware, each piece is marked by very minimal, but striking natural forms and the use of empty space, the latter a nod to ‘Ma’ in Japanese art. These pieces are functional but would equally work on a dresser or wall to beautifully enhance a decorative scheme.
Debbie Barber – Bird with Circles, £27.00
Quirky, witty and charming, Debbie Barber‘s work brings a smile to your face and her subtle use of colour makes her pieces pretty and appealing. I met Debbie recently at The British Craft Fair and she has started to use lustre glazes, a really exciting development. This white stoneware slip-cast bird typifies Debbie’s lovely, life-enhancing work but don’t just buy one, they look even better in a flock!
Peter Willis – Tall Bottle with a Yellow Shawl, £300.00
Peter Willis‘ work is vivid and uncompromising and in this vessel he has incorporated three different stoneware mixes to create this striking piece. I met Peter about twelve months ago and his work stood out immediately. He has a free, improvisatory style with his glazing, letting the colours drip and meet where they please, but don’t let that fool you, Peter’s work is anything but random.
Kate Schuricht – Miel – Small Lidded Sphere Pot, £60.00
Precision, subtlety, grace and peace: all words that describe the work of the brilliant Kate Schuricht. Kate’s pieces exude a confident calm, they are meditative but not shy, they stand out, they have presence. Stoneware allows for precision, it is a fine grained material and Kate takes full advantage of it. It is her use of colour too that is so appealing, a muted range reminiscent of egg shells. Kate produces work of great sophistication.
Jessica Jordan – Small Low Rimmed Vessel, £25.00
Topographical maps, tribal art, sheep paths around hills, cracks in parched earth, all these images spring to mind when I look at this piece by Jessica Jordan. This work has an elemental, organic quality that makes it instantly appealing and also unusual when you discover it is made from porcelain, that most pure and delicate of ceramic raw materials.
Adam Frew – Large Lidded Jar With Scribble Drawing, £90
I became a fan of Adam Frew’s beautiful work as soon as I saw it. This is a gifted maker if ever I saw one and I particularly admire his use of mark making to create his very distinctive decorative style. I suppose in the past he may have worked on paper and canvas, but Adam uses his porcelain in the same way. Adam’s forms are precise and fine and his mark making vivacious and energetic. Adam’s development as a maker is going to be fascinating.
Lisa Young – Arcane – Large Porcelain Bowl, £160
Lisa Young’s porcelain pieces are perfection. Beautifully thrown and then beautifully decorated with her very unique designs. Her style, to me, is very mid-century modern, her illustrative motifs evoking constellations, space travel, helixes with just a whiff of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis! Lisa’s work would add style and sophistication to any home.
Katharina Klug – Leaf Bowl, £36.00
Katharina Klug is a new addition to Seek & Adore, I saw her work only recently and was charmed. Like Adam Frew, Katharina explores mark-making on her beautiful porcelain pieces, utilising the porcelain very much as an artist might use a piece of paper or a canvas. Katharina’s lines are bold, like charcoal, and her lines have an immediacy and energy about them that give her pieces verve and a tangible energy. Katharina is a very welcome addition to the Seek & Adore designer-maker stable.
Janice Parker – Ding and the Grandfather Clock, £120.00
Janice Parker‘s work is entirely in the tradition I suppose of the figurative sculpture although she brings her own witty sensibility to the craft. Janice is a storyteller whose tales are told through the medium of porcelain and the immediacy of the line. Here is an illustrator who draws on her material and bakes and glazes it. She is also a mixed-media artist, incorporating metal elements to bring movement and contrast to her pieces. Janice is a one-off, a marvellous, creative maverick.
Timea Sido – Tangled Web Large Bowl, £74.00
Timea Sido’s technique is a mystery but she produces pieces of exquisite delicacy and complexity. These works are sculptural in the way they play with light and shade and positive and negative space. Placed in a window they subtly alter as the light changes, casting beautiful, intricate shadows. This is exciting, original work.
See Dan’s handmade ceramics selection here
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