Behind The Blue Door

Afternoon Tea | November 12, 2015 |

Move over Grayson:

The UK's new pottery heroes



With Grayson Perry now firmly established as not only an artistic force to be reckoned with but also a cultural commentator and national treasure, it’s no wonder the world of ceramics is emerging from the shadows to be regarded with fresh respect.

The BBC’s Great Pottery Throw Down was a populist confirmation that pots are hot. It was a ceramics installation that united the nation in commemoration: artist Paul Cummins’ tens of thousands of hand-crafted poppies filling the Tower of London moat certainly broke out of the art world and into the mainstream.

So if the art world is ridding itself of snootiness around craft, who are the emerging potters to watch? We took a snapshot of a few favourites, worthy of investment.

Beccy Ridsdel

Recent work, based on chimneys and pylons, displays a move towards a more industrial feel for Yorkshire-based ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel. Nevertheless, quirkiness runs through all Beccy’s work, together with a playfully iconoclastic nod to the history of British ceramics.

Her dissected porcelain has been immensely popular, forcing us to take a fresh look at patterns and designs that are so familiar we risk not even noticing them. Her work manages to blend edginess with prettiness, which is no mean feat.

Buy if…. you’re a ceramics lover, wanting to invest in contemporary art pieces. Large gallery pieces aside, Beccy’s Folksy shop includes a range of very accessible work.


Image source: Beccy Ridsdel

Rebecca Appleby

Rebecca Appleby’s work packs a much tougher punch, examining as it does the conflict between industry and nature.

Definitely falling into the category of sculptural ceramics, Rebecca’s work is defined by surface marks and a hard-edged, urban feel, making the pieces easily recogniseable. Grids and graffiti, with splashes of colour explore how nature and industry fight for supremacy.

Buy if… you want to take your interest in street art into buying craft. Rebecca also runs Appleby Gallery at Redbrick Mill, in Batley, West Yorkshire, selling her work and that of fellow artist Greg Farndon – a great edit of prints and original artworks.


Image source: Rebecca Appleby

Anna Whitehouse

If tactile objects and seaside inspiration are more to your liking, check out the work of Anna Whitehouse.

Anna noticed that people were reluctant to handle ceramics and set about exploring what made certain objects so irresistible to touch. She strives to incorporate this into her work, resulting in a number of solid, textured and warmly coloured pieces, which invite closer tactile examination.

Buy if… you want ceramics that doesn’t need to perch on a high shelf or behind glass. For small scale pieces – or larger bespoke commissions – Anna’s work would sit perfectly in rural or seaside settings.
moveovergraysonAnna-Whitehouse-Vessels - emailer

Image source: Anna Whitehouse

Olivier van Herpt

Based in the Netherlands, Olivier van Herpt is making waves in the ceramics world for his innovative work with 3D printing.

Inspired by the possibilities of the technology, Olivier spent two years working on techniques that would enable large and medium sized functional ceramics to be produced. After a huge amount of experimentation, he is now creating fine ceramics with high levels of detail.

Buy if… Like Olivier, you’re interested in the links between technology and its place in the creation of the unique objects traditionally made by artisans.


Image source: Olivier van Herpt


Joseph Hartley

Manchester-based Joseph Hartley, by contrast, takes a resolutely low-tech approach to his pieces, although they have a pared-back contemporary feel.

Working not just in clay, but also in wood, cloth, paper, perspex and more, Joseph is fascinated with the links between food and other creative materials and is inspired by both.

Utter simplicity is Joseph’s signature but another characteristic touch is that many pieces do double duty, such as the apron that folds into a canvas sack to store the bread you made while wearing the apron.

Buy if… you want art you can use every day. Several pieces from Joseph’s Makery range are available from the FAO shop.


Image source: Joseph James Hartley


Lead image source: Beccy Ridsdel


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The Jasper Conran Tisbury collection offers a plethora of informal tableware and home accessories that allow you to mix the collection into your everyday living. The tailored shapes with renowned Jasper Conran precision combine with a resilient porcelain, glass and wood to withstand wear and tear of everyday use. Natural colour styles contribute to an effortless look and feel.

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