- Written By 10Melanin Team
10 Contemporary Black British Ceramicists
There has never been a better time to try your hand at pottery; there has been a continuous increase in the uptake of ceramics in the Western world for years, and as a result, more and more workshops and studios are springing up for you to join. Ceramics is particularly great because you don't have to be a fine artist to try it; anyone can give it a go, and if you've always wanted a creative outlet, this could be it. People are falling in love with the idea of turning off their phones and doing something that doesn't require them to stare at a screen. But before you jump on google and be put off by the lack of brown faces looking back at you, check out this list of Black potters based in the UK, and follow Black Ceramicists on instagram for more Black potters from around the world.
10. Isatu Hyde
Isatu Hyde is a classically trained potter and product designer who works out of her studio in North West London, making bespoke and small-batch runs of handmade pottery as well as developing a line of products under her own brand, AMBA. Isatu appreciates the notion that, despite fired clay pots being physical fragility, vulnerability, and having potential flaws, they retain strength and distinctiveness in their capability to communicate and abstract everyday human life over millions of years.
9. Merissa Hylton
Merissa Hylton is a mixed media artist based in London and the founder of Black British Visual Artists, a platform for Black artists in the UK to network, exhibit, and share their work. Hylton's art examines and explores different aspects of herself, such as her ancestry, emotions, mental health, self-acceptance, identity, and healing. She is a big advocate for creative therapy and strongly believes that engaging in art can have a profound effect on your wellbeing. Hylton works in a number of mediums, incorporating both traditional and experimental approaches to her work with a particular focus on painting and sculpture, which frequently involves ceramics.
8. Ella Bulley
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Ella Bulley is a London-based Material Designer whose work frequently blurs the boundaries of textiles, product, art, and set design. Bulley is often experimental with the materials she uses but in recent years has become comfortable with medium clay, resulting in products that tell a story of historical, social, and cultural processes. Notably Bulley's work has gone on to be exhibited at London Design Festival, Milan Design Week, Tendence, Ambiente, Sommerset House and the Design Museum, London. She was also listed as Crafts Councils design graduates to watch 2014 and 'Project Saccharum’ was awarded the ‘Form 2015: Innovative Craft’ award for her innovative use of sugar as a material.
7. Luyi Brown
Luyi Brown, who was born and raised in East London, is the founder of Puzzle of Nature, a ceramics studio that creates decorative yet functional ceramics that can be used in any room of the house. Brown is influenced by both the natural world and the concrete landscape of a city, which can be seen by her use of different clays and glazes throughout her work. She makes the majority of her work on the potter's wheel, using rougher clays for vases and smoother clays for objects that can be used to serve food and drink.
6. Phoebe Collings-James
Phoebe Collings-James is a London-based artist and sculptor who works in a variety of media to create work that examines themes such as violence, sexuality, desire, and fear. Collings-James' project Mudbelly Ceramics continues her exploration of the ceramic form by engaging with sensitivity, sexuality, and the tactile nature of clay. Her first encounter with ceramics was in Italy in 2014 during the Nuove artist residency and was instantly captivated by the transforming aspect of ceramics and the tactile communication it creates. She continued to study wheel thrown and hand building techniques while living in Brooklyn, incorporating ceramics into her other artwork.
5. Ronaldo Wiltshire
Ronaldo Wiltshire is a ceramic artist who in 2020 appeared on the Great Pottery Throw Down which on Channel 4 and a technician and tutor at Morley north Kensington College who runs ceramic workshops at Create Space London, Willesden Green. As an artist, he creates functional yet decorative items, most of which are glazed using his own recipes and inspired by the colours of the Barbados countryside. Luminous shorelines and colourful landscapes in blue, green, and white are a common theme in his work.
4. Bisila Noha
Bisila Noha is a ceramicist residing in London who is of Spanish and Equatorial Guinean descent. Noha is inspired by many traditional clay-working techniques from around the world and her work strives to question Western views on art and craft. She began taking pottery lessons in London almost 10 years ago and has since then travelled to Italy to do a residency, an apprenticeship in Madrid and to Mexico to work closely with potters in Oaxaca. Once she was came back to the UK, she had enough orders to become a ceramicist full time.
3. Freya Bramble Carter
London-based ceramicist Freya Bramble-Carter has been working with clay since she was a toddler, and she has been burning pots in her father's studio since she was a child. Chris Bramble, her father, has been a ceramics artist and teacher for more than 30 years, and the two now share a studio space in London's Kingsgate Workshops. Freya believes in making ceramics with soul, that inspire and become a source of energy in the home, she has always felt a deep physical connection to the clay she works with. Freya also runs a workshop where she conducts regular classes.
2. Carla Sealey
Naked Clay Ceramics, founded by Carla Sealey, is inspired by the earth's natural colours and textures, producing ranges of peaceful, tactile, minimal style dinnerware and homeware in black stoneware and white porcelain. Carla creates her pieces by hand in her Bedfordshire studio, using a combination of handbuilding and slip casting. The ceramics are fired without a glaze on the outside so that you can appreciate the feel of the natural, fired clay. Carla hopes that the tactile connection will allow you to take a moment to halt, breathe, and enjoy a brief moment in the midst of life's chaos.
1. Magdalene Odundo
Living legend Magdalene Odundo is one of the world's most renowned ceramic artists. After Magdalene moved from Nairobi, Kenya, to the UK in 1971, she went on to study at the prestigious Royal College of Art where she discovered ceramics to be her preferred medium. She later returned to Kenya and studied traditional techniques, and began to incorporate them and contemporary making practices into her own work. As an African-British artist, she often explores her diasporic identity and the significant role that objects play in intercultural relationships.