The Rise Of Studio Ceramics


It is a remarkable time for ceramicists, both in and out of the sale rooms. Building on what has been happening over the last few years, Mallams specialist Studio and Contemporary Ceramics sale in December 2016 demonstrated how ceramics are emerging from the shadow of other artistic mediums.

Led by a world record at auction for contemporary ceramicist Jennifer Lee, her ‘Pale pot, speckled emerging rim’ from 1997 fetched £13,000 (hammer price) smashing her previous saleroom record by some way and this was backed up with £4,200 for the much smaller ‘asymmetric speckled pot, tilted rim’, dated to 1990, both selling to private UK buyers.

A small Lucie Rie footed bowl, circa 1981, in matte white glaze with a golden manganese lip, which was bought directly from the artist at her Albion Mews studio in the early 1980s made £12,000 and proves how her work is going from strength to strength on the international market. Yet it is the performance of a second generation of ceramic artists including John Ward, Emmanuel Cooper, Gordon Baldwin and Edmund de Waal working in clay, who shook the norms associated with traditional craft, which is particularly helping to propel the market forward.

A John Ward geometric vessel fetched £7,800, Emmanuel Cooper bowls were making between £1,000 to £2,500 and a Gordon Baldwin torso form made £2,800. This all helps to demonstrate a re-imagined and growing interest in this area of ceramics, fed in part by The Great Pottery Throw Down, the 2015 opening of the Centre for Ceramic Art in York, and a rise in pottery courses (to name just some factors).

The year ahead promises to be an exciting time in this market and Mallams’ next specialist Studio and Contemporary Ceramics sales in May and December will be something to look forward to.

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