A Summer of Ceramics Exhibitions

Launch Slideshow

For too long the field of contemporary and studio ceramics has been overlooked or underrepresented within the British art scene, but all of this is set to change this summer, with a series of major public exhibitions in Britain and further afield.

With major shows dedicated to key makers of the past century – such as Lucie Rie, Magdalene Odundo, Hans Coper and Jennifer Lee – the spotlight is well and truly shining on the exciting and engaging field of British studio ceramics, with their works being recognized and celebrated for the unique and important role they played within the broader British art scene of the past century.

Here we look at some of the key exhibitions coming up, as well as works by the artists appearing in Sotheby’s forthcoming Made in Britain auction.

A Summer of Ceramics Exhibitions

    Jennifer Lee
    Hand-Built Banded Asymmetric, 1980
    Estimate £3,000–5,000

    Jennifer Lee
    Dark, Banded, Asymmetric, Curved Polished Rim, 1982
    Estimate £4,000–6,000

    Winner of the 2018 Loewe Craft Prize , 2019 marks the first solo exhibition by the renowned ceramicist Jennifer Lee in a UK public institution for over two decades. Designed by Jamie Fobert Architects the Kettle’s Yard exhibition Jennifer Lee: the potter’s space includes 40 works from different periods throughout Lee’s expansive career, as well as new works made specifically for the show, which runs until 22 September.

    Sotheby’s is delighted to be presenting to the market for the very first time four important early works by Lee made during her time at the Royal College of Art and showing the development of her early style. Appearing in the Made In Britain sale on 10 September, the auction offers the opportunity to acquire a work by one of the UK’s leading ceramic artists from as little as £600.

    Jennifer Lee: the potter’s space
    Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge
    Until 22 September 2019
    Dame Lucie Rie
    Oval Bowl, 1955
    Estimate £10,000–15,000

    As one of the most celebrated ceramicists of the past century, Lucie Rie paved the way for a generation of makers, and alongside her contemporary Hans Coper changed the landscape for studio ceramics. Having fled Nazi persecution on the continent Rie arrived in Britain in 1938 and soon set to work in her small North London studio. CoCA’s exhibition Lucie Rie: Ceramics and Buttons , running until 3 November, focuses on Rie’s early manufacture of buttons in her Albion Mews studio, having spotted a gap in the market with many British button factories having been requisitioned for the War effort.

    Made In Britain offers a breadth of works by Rie, ranging from early domestic wares, through to the refined, elegant examples of the 1950s and ‘60s and on to the bolder, more architectural works of the 1970s and ‘80s, all with estimates ranging from only £1,000.

    Lucie Rie: Ceramics and Buttons
    Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA), York Art Gallery, York
    Until 3 November 2019
    Sara Flynn
    Two Vessels, 2000s
    Estimate £800–1,200

    One of the most exciting emerging names in the world of studio ceramics, 2019 marks the first presentation of pieces by the potter Sara Flynn in Japan. Showing at the Sokyo Gallery in Kyoto, the exhibition will present a new body of work, with support from the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland. With pieces housed in major museums across the world, Flynn’s unique and highly sculptural style has met with great success, including nomination for the inaugural Loewe Craft Prize in 2017.

    Having only appeared at auction a handful of times previously, September’s Made In Britain sale sees two vessels from the early 2000s that capture her masterful understanding of different glazes and effects.

    Sara Flynn
    Sokyo Gallery, Kyoto, Japan
    Opening 7 September
    Edmund de Waal
    Vase, 1996
    Estimate £800–1,200

    For years Sotheby's has marveled at Chatsworth's impeccable grounds and art-filled interiors, which are currently being showcased in our summer exhibition Treasures from Chatworth at our New York galleries. But for those looking to incorporate Chatsworth into their own homes, Sotheby's also presents a selling exhibition titled Inspired by Chatsworth - including a selection of works by makers represented in the Chatsworth collection, such as Kate Malone, Felicity Aylieff, Pippin Drysdale and Edmund de Waal.

    This side of the pond, we see a small mid-1990s work by de Waal featured within September’s Made in Britain sale, coming from the collection of the late renowned collectors Pat and Penny Allen.

    Inspired by Chatsworth
    Sotheby’s, New York
    Until 13 September
    Hans Coper
    Ovoid Pot with Disc, 1960s
    Estimate £12,000–18,000

    Marking the first West Coast show dedicated to the life and work of the potter Hans Coper, Oregon Jewish Museum’s current exhibition Hans Coper – Less Means More (running until 22 September) draws on works from public and private collections on both sides of the Atlantic. The exhibition, which addresses the complexities and contradictions embedded in his life and work, features nearly fifty works from throughout his career.

    In September we are delighted to present three works by Coper from a Private London Collection, all acquired directly from the Artist in the 1970s. Appearing at auction for the first time, they reflect the breadth of his working methods, with different glazes and surface techniques, and some of his most celebrated and sought-after forms.

    Hans Coper – Less Means More
    Oregon Jewish Museum, Portland, Oregon
    Until 22 September 2019
    Magdalene Odundo
    Untitled, 1983
    Estimate £8,000–12,000

    Transferring from The Hepworth Wakefield , where it met with phenomenal reviews, Magdalene Odundo, The Journey of Things opens this summer at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich – one of the leading public collections for studio ceramics in Britain. Incorporating more than fifty works by Odundo – one the most celebrated and esteemed artists working in the medium of clay – the show will draw together a larger selection of objects chosen by the artist from across the globe, revealing the rich and diverse range of objects and traditions of manufacture that have informed and impacted her approach. Designed by Sir David Adjaye of Adjaye Associates , the exhibition will also feature Odundo’s largest work to date, Transition II, made up of 1001 individual suspended glass pieces.

    In September we are excited to present an important vessel by the artist in burnished and carbonised terracotta, dating from 1983, and bought by the present owners from The Craftsmen Potters Shop at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum in 1983 for only £315!

    Magdalene Odundo, The Journey of Things
    Sainsbury Centre For Visual Arts, Norwich
    Until 15 December 2019
    James Tower
    Greenish Black & White Bowl, 1979
    Estimate £3,000–5,000

    A leading voice in the field of studio ceramics in Britain in the past century, September sees an exhibition hosted by the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath to mark the centenary of James Tower’s birth. Having taught at Bath Academy of Art in Corsham alongside the likes of Peter Lanyon, William Scott and Kenneth Armitage, Tower was a central figure in the post-war era, and was represented by the leading gallery Gimpel Fils in London, where his work was regularly shown alongside paintings and sculptures by Barbara Hewporth, Ben Nicholson and Henry Moore. Blurring the lines between sculpture and ceramics, Tower’s iconic works, typically executed in black and white earthenware, display artistic influences such as Moore and Picasso, as well as his in-depth understanding of the technical processes involved in making ceramics.

    Following on from the success of his 1985 piece Tidemarks , which made £27,500 at Sotheby’s in June this year, we are delighted to present a stylish geometric patterned dish from 1979 as part of September’s Made in Britain sale.

    James Tower, Ceramic Artist – Centenary Exhibition
    Victoria Art Gallery, Bath
    From 21 September – 24 November
    Emmanuel Cooper
    Bowl, 2005
    Estimate £1,000–1,500

    As part of our September Made In Britain sale we are delighted to be hosting a series of free afternoon talks in the gallery, celebrating the very best in the Modern British Art scene. This will include a talk by David Horbury, partner of the potter and writer Emmanuel Cooper and editor of the forthcoming memoir Making Emmanuel Cooper, to be published later this year by Unicorn Publishing . As one of the most important and influential figures in the ceramics scene of the past century, Cooper co-founded the magazine Ceramic Review , and wrote extensively on the history of ceramics and makers, including biographies of Bernard Leach and Lucie Rie.

    Contact us now to reserve your free place modbrit@sothebys.com or 0207 293 6424.
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