MEET FOUR FEMALE CREATIVES WHO ARE RIDING THE WAVE OF THE CERAMIC REVIVAL, FUSING HERITAGE AND CONTEMPORARY METHODS
Females creatives are at the forefront of the ceramic revival
Ceramics are having a resurgence – and it’s female crafters leading the way. ‘The growing interest, especially with women, is a testament to the inherent quality of expression and creativity that clay possesses,’ says Malory Tate from the Craft Potters Association. Leading design stores like The Conran Shop have even expanded dedicated spaces. Henrietta Klug, head of buying and merchandising, says: ‘A beautifully handmade piece of ceramic can instantly change the look of a room. The trend is set to stay.’
‘I never really considered ceramics would be something I would do, even though I’ve loved making things with my hands since I was a child,’ says rising star Yasmin Falahat, who has become popular on Instagram and Etsy for her mouth-watering fig and pomegranate dishes. ‘I just really love natural, fluid lines – water, light, nature. I know that my fig and pomegranate dishes wouldn’t even exist without my initial drawings of the figs and poms, and those drawings wouldn’t exist without my desire to connect, via food, to my Turkish and Iranian heritage.’
It’s hard to believe, but Yasmin didn’t try her hand at ceramics until embarking on a four-week beginner course in 2018. ‘I booked it through Turning Earth, which provides ceramic facilities in London . That was that. I was like, ok, I love this whole process and I want to do this all the time!’ she laughs. Yasmin now batchmakes her ceramic pieces in a shared studio in Bow. Her pieces are individually hand-built, painted and glazed in a delectable and intense colour palette as part of the five-week making process. ‘This summer I got a glaze applicator and it has revolutionised the way I work,’ explains Yasmin. ‘At the moment you can buy my work on Instagram and Etsy. I just got my own kiln and I’m hoping I can secure a couple of stockists soon.’
yasminfalahat.com Instagram @yasminfalahat @studio.yf
Based in rural Shropshire, Isatu Hyde shares her studio with partner and woodworking craftsman Kai Venus-demetrio. ‘I’ve been working to commission since 2014, selling my work through The Marches Pottery shop in Ludlow,’ she explains. ‘This year, I launched a business, Studio Artificer, with Kai. We intend to use this as a selling platform and collaborative design and craft studio.’ Isatu dedicates her time to traditional making processes, almost exclusively throwing on the potter’s wheel and using very few tools. ‘I am currently setting up a gas kiln to fire in reduction and I make all my glazes from scratch using raw materials. I also reclaim all my clay throughout the process,’ she says. ‘A lot of the work I am drawn to is unglazed and often subtly animistic: lower-fired British country pottery, African pit-fired pottery and ancient work from Greece and Central America – these inspire me.’
The boom of ceramics, especially among females, is one Isatu is finding particularly exciting. ‘A lot of the work I like has been hand-built by women in rural communities but throwing has traditionally been dominated by men, so it’s great to see so many women becoming involved.’ But there is still work to be done she says. ‘I’m more concerned about the lack of representation from black and brown makers in UK pottery and craft. There have been countless times in design or craft events where I am the only person of non-caucasian background in the room. I’m keen to show that the disciplines of craft are a basis for self-expression open to anyone interested.’
isatuhyde.com, studioartificer.com Instagram @isatuhyde, @studio_artificer
Female ceramicists should be more forward in shouting about how good we are at what we do
Emma Lacey established her studio focusing on hand-thrown clay in 2007 and supplies design stores such as Liberty London and The Conran Shop with her popular Everyday range. Emma studied 3D craft at the University of Brighton and did an MA in ceramic design at Central Saint Martins (where she now teaches). She says it was working alongside other professional ceramicists, such as residencies with Karin Putsch-grassi in Italy, that caused her to became aware of the significance of everyday functionality in her own designs. Her pieces have a signature dimple pressed into them, but Emma is quick to point out this is not merely for aesthetic reasons, it is ‘first and foremost driven by ergonomics and to heighten the user experience’. ‘The user experience is hugely important to me – as is translating the nature of the material and my experience with it as the designer and maker,’ says Emma. ‘I hope to introduce the user to a lasting relationship with the piece.’
Asked what propels her work, Emma reveals she is inspired by the material and process itself – the push and pull of clay versus artist or maker. ‘Makers such as Barbara Schmidt and Hella Jongerius, who are so innovative whilst loyal to the material and craft, are real inspirational figures,’ she says. ‘I think we, as ceramicists, especially female ones, should be more forward in shouting about how good we are at what we do. I think there is a tendency for some of us working in ceramics to be very modest and self-critical, which one might argue is part of the journey towards excellence.’
emmalacey.com, Instagram @emmalaceyeveryday
‘It’s felt like – for quite a few years now – that there has been this developing renaissance in ceramics and craft in general,’ says ceramicist and artist Jode Pankhurst, who creates her signature ‘bold and playful’ ceramic vessels in her south-east London studio. ‘My mum had her own ceramic studio in the basement of our house when we were growing up but I didn’t fall in love with it as a medium until much later on during the final year of my degree at Edinburgh College of Art in 2013. I studied illustration but was drawn to ceramics; for me, working threedimensionally has always felt more instinctual,’ says Jode. When asked what makes her work different, aside from the evident fun-factor, she says ‘maybe my use of ceramic decals. I don’t see tons of examples of this technique being applied to hand-built pieces in ceramics. I also have a habit of never planning my collections so I can retain a playful feel in my work’.
Describing her work as ‘askew and pattern-focused ’, her style, although confidently using monochrome, tends to have a soft use of colour. It’s that pattern and illustrative linework that gives her work standout appeal. ‘I decorate in stoneware glazes, saturated slips and sometimes use 22-carat gold lustre or ceramic decals in the third firing, which adds more detail and depth to the finished pieces,’ she says. While she was looking forward to exhibiting at Newlyn Art Gallery in Cornwall this year, it has inevitably been postponed. However, her work is sold via her website and also through stockists such as the Hayward Gallery, Search & Rescue and Kentish Town Stores. ‘I’m also set to release a new series of workshops at my studio to take place this winter,’ Jode adds.
jodepankhurst.co.uk , Instagram @jodepankhurst