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From the modern and minimal to the traditional or decadent, there are styles to enhance all functions and means.
One of the great things about ceramics is that it is so wonderfully accessible. A unique, hand-made item from one of Britain’s many talented contemporary ceramicists is within most budgets.
At Author, we believe that everyday items should be both beautiful and a pleasure to use, and with ceramics this really can be the case. After all, why shouldn’t the jug from which you pour the milk for your morning coffee fill your heart with joy?
Alternatively, if you are looking for a sculpture or ‘objet d’art’ but don’t want to make the more substantial investment that would be necessary to acquire a bronze or glass piece, then ceramics again is the obvious choice.
If you don’t want to choose between the functional and the sculptural, or prefer to put beautiful tableware on display rather than put it to use, ceramics has the answer. Ceramic pieces comfortably inhabit the undefined area between art and function.
Ceramics can be found to suit just about any room scheme. From the modern and minimal to the traditional or decadent, there are styles to fulfil all manner of needs and enhance any space.
There is something very grounding about anything made from clay in the home – the fact that basic, ancient techniques are still widely practised and that a product of the earth can be given longevity through the firing process is a welcome connection to a shared past.
For the Author collections, we have chosen ceramics from our favourite British contemporary makers. Some are well-known names, others are exciting newcomers, and we have selected a range of their pieces including everyday tableware, eye-catching sculptures and other pieces which audaciously defy such simplistic categorisation.
Here we profile three of our ceramicists, Myer Halliday, Penny Withers and Jo Davies. Each has a distinct style and each delight us for different reasons.
We adore the work of Scottish ceramicist Myer Halliday, and have chosen several of his pieces for the Author collections. His delicate, monochrome, hand-drawn designs – black on white – on different forms are instantly recognisable. He works largely with slip cast porcelain and parian, which is a type of bisque porcelain that looks a lot like marble.
Myer’s charmingly simple, unpretentious pots and trays are carefully drawn with neat black lines in different patterns, such as regularly spaced spots, lines, criss-cross grids or waves.
There is a quirkiness in the drawing, and each object feels wonderfully personal. The style of decoration is refreshing, with an almost doodle-like quality. We love how they are intricate and yet unfussy.
The work of Sheffield ceramic artist Penny Withers explores and pushes the boundaries between thrown work and sculpture. We have selected for the Author collections several of Penny’s elegant pots, which stand tall but slightly unbalanced, like swaying dancers.
Penny Withers’ tall, sculptural ceramics are brilliantly effective in awkward corners or on shelves, in fact anywhere where space is rather tight. We recommend using her Twisted Freeform sculptures on mantelpieces because of the narrow base. The neutral tones suit both calm, minimalistic spaces and busy, colourful wallpapered backgrounds because the texture and form provide the interest rather than colour.
Jo Davies is a contemporary British ceramicist, who specialises in handmade, wheel-thrown porcelain and is known for her tableware, bespoke pieces, vases and gilded work.
Jo works from her studio in London’s East End and we especially love her quirky, humorous take on familiar, functional objects. Jo’s work is often self-reverential, moving forward with similar themes, continuing the story and pushing the brief for a particular piece another step further.
The white crackle glaze on Jo’s pitcher gives it a traditional, rustic feel but it’s squashed sides and naturally-formed pouring spout also conveys a distinctly modern vibe.
We have also chosen for the Author collections some of Jo Davies’ black and gold, and white and gold ceramic vases and finch bowls. The gilding adds a touch of decadence to these simple items, which can be decorative or useful – as you wish.
Whether you are looking for a first piece of contemporary sculpture for your home, to select for special friends a thoughtfully-chosen wedding gift or to find eye-catching tableware that you will use and appreciate every day, we say that with ceramics you really can’t go wrong.
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