Have you noticed that pottery seems to be having a bit of a renaissance just now?
I’ve come across so many people recently who’ve excitedly told me all about their new evening class obsession of throwing a pot on the wheel at a local craft centre (yes – really!), and everywhere I look I seem to discover another beautiful handcrafted crockery design that turns my head..
It’s a trend that a good friend of mine, Katie Treggiden – formerly of confessions of a design geek and founding editor of biannual independent design magazine Fiera – has taken to heart and not only turned her own hand to, but has also written a (rather gorgeous) book about as well.
Focused on the revival of ceramics in six global cities – London, Copenhagen, New York, Sao Paulo, Sydney and Tokyo – Urban Potters: Makers in the City**, sets out to discover why we are now ‘returning to earth’ and reconnecting with craft.
It’s a really interesting proposition: in an age when we devote so much of our time to devouring digital information and imagery on screens, it’s perhaps inevitable that the spontaneity of craftsmanship seem increasingly appealing. When we our days sat in a clean, often antiseptic environment, tapping away dutifully at our computers, being able to make some beautiful with our hands takes on a nostalgic, romanticised ideal, and casts off the shackles of standardisation and mass-manufacturing.
There’s also something to be said for the role social media now plays in allowing artisans to share their designs with the wider world, connect with an engaged potential customer base and develop a demand for their products.
Urban Potters: Makers in the City introduces 28 young and passionate ceramicists based in each of the six focal cities, delving first into the brief history of pottery in each location as context, before sharing not only these contemporary urban potters’ body of work, but also a unique insight into their studios and creative inspiration. It’s a gem of a book that is not only a visual feast for the eyes but also a wonderfully tactile experience; the raw cardboard cover, thick matte paper and recessed cover typography echoing the refined crafting of its subject matter.
I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight three of the urban potters featured who are personal faves of mine – known to me previously – but whose stories this book has illuminated, and given me a whole new appreciation for their work. There are, of course, many others featured whose designs I have now fallen head over heels for, but I’ll save those for another day..
I first came across Ditte Fischer‘s sleek vessels when I stumbled upon her quaint little shop in the heart of Copenhagen on a visit a few years ago, and was drawn to their soft organic shapes in gently muted shades, often juxtaposed by sharp angular edges. Inspired by the city around her, as well as the silence in nature surrounding her cottage in North Sealand, Fischer leaves the surfaces of her porcelain tableware undecorated, and only glazes the inside to ensure the focus remains on the colour and texture of the food, rather than the pieces themselves. The angular Tekande teapots and Jubilæumskop beakers are both personal faves of mine.
Florian Gadsby is a London-based potter, whose 145k-strong Instagram following ensure his designs are literally always sold out on his website. Having studied with the Design & Crafts Council Ireland, before training as an apprentice at Maze Hill Pottery in Greenwich under Soda Glaze and Shino potter Lisa Hammond, his pieces are always simple, elegant and functional, and he tells their stories in wonderfully written captions beneath his clean, beautifully composed, Instagram imagery. He’s about to embark on a 6-month stint working as Japanese potter Ken Matsuzaki’s apprentice in Mashiko, learning how to throw Oribe style pots, and will no doubt be documenting the whole process on his feed – be sure to hurry over and give him a follow..
A self-proclaimed ‘pot-ographer’, Brooklyn-based Helen Levi is another potter utilising a vast Instagram following (currently 151k) to her advantage. Having dedicated herself to ceramics by chance, after being asked by her tutor to cover her pottery classes whilst she was on maternity leave, Levi found the work to be the most fulfilling she had done and set about operating her own studio space in Brooklyn. Her designs are often named for the landscapes that insire their form or colour, with the Desert series standing out to me as a most beautifully crafted collection, marrying three different stonewares together in an exquisite marbling effect. You can see the design – along with her most recent monochrome pebble series – on her Instagram now.
Are you a convert to the contemporary pottery trend; ever tried your hand at throwing a pot, or currently coveting work from a local crafter? Let me know!
→Urban Potters: Makers in the City by Katie Treggiden is published by Ludion, an independent publisher of art books and artists’ prints.
All imagery © Urban Potters: Makers in the City, used with permission.