Ceramic Art London returns for its second year at St Martins. For one weekend, they present the best in contemporary studio ceramics
Words Patrick Hamilton Courtney
Ceramics have long been maligned in the art world as “craft” and a lower form of artistic expression. Today, contemporary makers are pushing the boundaries of clay further than ever into the realm of fine art.
Although the market has its ups and downs, contemporary ceramics are now stocked in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries. Produced by single artists working in their own studios, these pieces are usually unique and made for aesthetics before practicality. Many makers are finding their work becoming increasingly abstract or sculptural, in line with modern tastes.
Ceramic Art London is the world’s most important contemporary ceramics fair. Organised by the Craft Potters Association, the event has been running for 13 years. This year’s show is the second to be held in the airy atrium of art school Central Saint Martins.
The work of 90 artists will be on display, their backgrounds truly international in scope. Ceramicists will be attending from countries including Britain, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Denmark, South Korea, and Japan are on show. Renowned makers such as Akiko Hirai, Sophie Cook, and James Hake are returning, alongside up and coming names including Ben Arnup, Rachel Wood, and Lauren Nauman.
Key themes for 2017 revolve around the natural world. You’ll see built up sculptures of primates by Nichola Theakston, and models of endangered species by Charlotte Pack. Barbara Hast fashions porcelain bowls resembling sea urchins, while Kasuya Ishida creates shell-like vessels from clay and natural glazes. On the more abstract front are Ben Arnup’s geometric designs – a modern riff on the practise of Elizabeth Fritsch – and the twisted sculptures of Roger Coll. The event space is packed to the brim, a treasure trove of clay delights.
With works available from as little as £25 up to £8000, there are pieces to suit every budget. Contemporary ceramics are excellent for those wanting to invest in 3D, non-wall hanging art, but whose budgets don’t stretch to the expensive medium of traditional sculpture. There is no better opportunity to acquire contemporary studio ceramics than at Ceramic Art London.
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