Freeform, organic, and sculptural are just some of the words that come to mind when viewing the work of ceramicist Ranti Bamgbala aka Ranti Bam, who is inspired by a love of words and metaphor, Eastern philosophy, etymology, and clay. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, and raised in London Ranti set up her studio practice in 2015 after graduating from the renowned City Lit Ceramics degree course.
Award-winning ceramicist Myriam Mourabit creates exquisite Moroccan ceramics inspired by her country’s rich ceramic heritage. The designer who is based in Rabat, Morocco trained in Paris at the Duperré School of Applied Arts and the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. She founded her company in 1998 and from her studio skillfully produces Moroccan ceramics collections that include: bowls, vases, tableware, furniture and interior fittings.
[Image credit: Tagine Ceramics – Myriam Mourabit]
[Image credits: Ugandan Ceramics Pottery School]
Closely aligned with Vision for Africa International, and Austrian based Christian organisation; Ugandan Ceramics is a pottery school based near Kampala, Uganda. Offering training in the various methods of ceramics production, the students who attend the school are given the opportunity to study with artists from Uganda and Europe, amongst them are former students who have gone on to become instructors themselves.
Ardmore is an award-winning ceramics studio creating collectible South African ceramics products that are distinctive, colourful, whimsical and full of character. Ardmore’s ceramics call to mind the tradition of detailed porcelain and pottery artworks seen throughout the ages, particularly in Chinese and Japanese culture, and in recognition of the studio’s high level of creativity and craftsmanship have been labelled ‘modern day collectibles’ by Christie’s, one of the world’s most prestigious fine art auction houses. Located in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Ardmore was founded over twenty-five years ago by fine artist, Fée Halsted; who began mentoring Bonnie Ntshalintshali and five years after they started were jointly awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award. This award award brought increased demand for their work and as the studio expanded Fee began to work with and train women from the local community and in the process developing Ardmore’s signature flamboyant style of collectible South African ceramics.
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.
[Image credit: Kpando Pottery]
Rather like the illustrations from a storybook, the distinctive imagery adorning Ugandan ceramicist, Bruno Sserunkuuma’s work depict a social and cultural commentary of Ugandan life in the form of stylised figures and shapes, enhanced with elaborate patterns.
[Image credit: Bruno Sserunkuuma, Ceramic Vessel – Afro Art]
You can never have enough bowls, and they can look so good as a design feature displayed on cabinet shelves or along counters. My sister recently showed me a gorgeous image of some stacked brightly coloured, patterned bowls; and whenever I walk into a place like Anthropologie I can’t help but be drawn to the sections with stacks of bowls piled high upon the shelves radiating pattern, colour and texture. I think small bowls are my latest interiors crush… One of my searches led me to Storm in a Teacup who have such pretty ones; some readers may recognise the bowls from the now closed Oprah Store. Storm in a Teacup is a contemporary South African ceramics studio located on the outskirts of Johannesburg, which handcrafts a range of functional ceramic tableware and gifts.
In the 1980’s Yvonne Chaka Chaka was singing about brewing African beer in the timeless infectious hit Umqombothi, a song that was and still is a regular feature at weddings and parties across Southern Africa and beyond. I remember the accompanying video, one of celebration and saw women carrying their brews in a traditional clay pot. Whether expertly balanced atop the head having been filled with water from the river, or as a vessel fermenting the ‘African Beer’, the bulbous clay pot is an enduring symbol of cultural tradition across the African continent, one that sees potters and ceramicists continue to produce the beautifully rounded and still functional vessels with great skill. Admired for its beauty, decoration and shape, traditional clay pot making is increasingly being revered as an art form, producing a number of noted artists who are taking the skill to a higher level; amongst them the Nala Family South African pottery makers comprising three generations of traditional Zulu clay pot-making, whose finely crafted pieces are made in the Thukela Valley, KwaZulu Natal and have earned the family of female potters local and international acclaim.
[Image sources: Traditional Zulu Pot, Nesta Nala via Eugene Hon]
I love pretty ceramics; so ideal for adding quick, interchangeable bursts of pattern and colour throughout the home and whilst browsing beautifully stylish blog, AphroChic I came across a posting featuring new online store Beldi, which is introducing customers to the authentic, Moroccan interior accessories and way of living. Visiting the website I spotted these gorgeously patterned plates and bowls, hand painted and hand glazed by artisans in Safi, a place renowned for its skillful pottery creations. The spirals on the ‘Spiral Safi bowls’ are based on the ancient Berber symbol for eternity, said to be a common symbol throughout Morocco. The intricate patterns, often portraying various local traditional motifs, are brought to life with vivid colour palettes.
Until Friday 11 November 2001, the lobby of One Canada Square in Canary Wharf London plays host to the ceramic creations of British / Nigerian contemporary ceramic sculptor Lawson Oyekan. Regular visitors to Canary Wharf may already be familiar with Lawson’s work, the artist has had four ceramic sculptures on permanent display as part of Canary Wharf’s permanent art collection for a while now, and this current exhibition sees some of his more recent works going on display alongside them in a showcase of the artist’s talent and evolving ideas. Lawson’s pieces are organic ranging from towering monolithic forms to beautifully etched bowl type shapes. I can’t help but thing of artistic treasures uncovered from an ancient archaeological site; they have that rare and precious quality about them that forces the viewer to stop and think about what is being said by the artist.