Contemporary Ceramics Centre is located in London, opposite the British Museum. At the front of the gallery, a retail space sells studio ceramics from over 80 makers, members of the Craft Potters Association. This is complemented by a dedicated gallery space at the rear which hosts regular solo and group exhibitions. From a membership of nearly 400, five new makers are selected to be featured in the gallery every two months. This blog highlights their inspirational stories and tales of ceramics.
Claire Seneviratne | fascinated by curvaceous shapes
"I’m fascinated by lovely curvaceous shapes. I love how a piece can make you feel..."
Claire Seneviratne joins us for the November to February bi-monthly display feature. Her smoke-fired vessels are distinctive with her use of gold lustre - a material that often succumbs to the firing process and is lost. Claire has developed a technique which retains the genuine gold lustre often with a delicate crazed surface.
Claire Seneviratne | Fascinated by Curvaceous Shapes...
"I realised that I wanted to specialise in
ceramics during my multidisciplinary design degree at Stoke-on Trent when I saw
images of African women carrying beautiful round ceramic water pots on their
heads. The elegance of the women and the simple symmetry of the vessels left a
graduating, I trained to be an art teacher as I didn’t feel ready to become a
studio potter; I needed more development time. For many years this is exactly
what I did. I always felt my work needed something else and wasn’t sure what it
was. Fortunately, I discovered smoke-firing and felt that this was the missing
ingredient! From this day onwards while caring for my two sons and teaching
part-time, I was able to experiment and develop my work to my heart’s content!
experimented with different types of sawdust and all sorts of different
combustible materials. I loved using coloured slips and burnishing but I had
real problems with my work cracking during the smoke-firing process. I almost
gave up after a couple of years of not finding the right clay, but thankfully, at last, I did.
As my work progressed, I tried incorporating some glaze into my work as I
was interested in producing different layers and textures. I also wanted to
work with lustres. The glazing worked well but the lustres would frequently
burn off and as I particularly like gold lustre this was a very expensive
trial! Fortunately, I did work out how to prevent this from happening.
symmetry and my pots tend to be symmetrical but I’m not obsessed about them
being perfectly symmetrical. If they are a little off that’s fine by me. I’m
fascinated by lovely curvaceous shapes. I love how a piece can make you feel by
curving out and then slowing curving in until a finishing point is intuitively
inspiration comes from the natural environment; anything from beautiful shells,
momentous rock formations, coastlines, forests and the incredible images
captured from outer space. The natural environment is so important to our
mental health, if my work could encourage people to walk more and find beauty
in their environment, I would feel I have achieved something.
Keith Brymer-Jones (L), Claire Seneviratne (R)
highlight in my career was meeting Keith Brymer-Jones during a craft fair that
I was exhibiting in. A customer of mine told me she had seen him in a nearby
bar and I cheekily asked her if she would mind asking him to come over as I
would love to meet him! She kindly agreed and went to find him. Keith came to
see me and was so friendly and encouraging. The next year at the same show he
met me again and told me my work had really progressed and was beautiful! I was
thrilled by this and am so grateful for his words and the tremendous impact
that he has had on ceramic appreciation through his passion and enthusiasm on
2016 I left my part-time teaching post to work as a ceramic artist full time
and as an added bonus we had our double garage converted into the most
luxurious Art Studio!
So now I
spend my days happily potting and smoke-firing away. My sons now have jobs and
have left home. I go for lots of walks with my husband and gorgeous crazy
collie. We both love the woods and
coastal walks when we can get there, it fills me with everlasting joy and
inspiration." Claire Seneviratne 2019