Organic shapes exhibiting protruding knobbly bumps and spiky thorn-like shapes remind me of gourds, the hard bulbous shells of fruit and the tall slender forms of cacti. Skilfully moulded by hand, without the aid of a potter’s wheel these forms are part of a range of decorative, and functional contemporary African ceramics from Kpando Pottery
, a business based in Ghana that takes its name from the Volta Region of Ghana, an area known for its skilled craftsmanship and distinctive pottery production. Kpando Pottery was founded by Joseph Nii Noi Dowuona, who has been working with local women for over ten years creating the designs that they sculpt. Given a contemporary update, the designs are inspired by those that have been passed down through the generations, across items such as pots, vases, water containers, platters and other vessels, and are characterised by distinctive surface relief; etched patterns and perforations.
The pottery is crafted using a clay that is dug near Lake Volta, known to be the world’s largest artificial lake. The clay is mixed with old broken pottery and water, hand shaped and then further tapped into shape with the aid of wooden bats. After the firing process, the hot pottery is immediately placed into a pile of bamboo shavings, a finishing process which produces a fire that gives the products their distinct shiny black patina finish. The finish gives the creations a metal like quality, that belies the fragility of the clay, and results in a strong focal piece.
…distinctive and striking contemporary African ceramics