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Article

Lisa M. Binder

(b Anyako, Ghana, June 13, 1944).

Ghanaian sculptor, active in Nigeria. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sculpture (1968) and a postgraduate diploma in art education from the University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana (1969). After graduation he taught at the Specialist Training College (now University of Winneba), Ghana, in a position vacated by the eminent sculptor Vincent Kofi. From 1975 he was Professor of Sculpture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Anatsui’s practice often makes use of found objects including bottle caps, milk-tins and cassava graters. However, he is not concerned with recycling or salvaging; instead he seeks meaning in the ways materials can be transformed to make statements about history, culture and memory.

His early work consists of ceramic sculptures manipulated to reconfigure pieces of memory. In 1978 he began his Broken Pots series, which was exhibited the following year at the British Council in Enugu, Nigeria. Several of the ceramic works were made of sherds that were fused together by a grog-like cement of broken pieces. Making art historical references to ...

Article

A. E. Duffey

(b Winburg, July 11, 1923).

South African potter. He was educated at Heidelberg and Potchefstroom (both nr Johannesburg) and began a fine arts degree at the University of the Witwatersrand, which he left after two years to work for a four-year painting diploma at the Johannesburg School of Art. In 1949 he won a three-year scholarship to study ceramics in Britain. He spent one year at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, where he worked under Dora Billington (1890–1968) and acquired his interest in pottery. He spent another two years working in such studios as those of Raymond Finch (b 1914) in Winchcombe, Glos, and Michael Cardew in Cornwall. He returned to South Africa in 1952 and taught ceramics at the Technical College in Durban (1952–4) and at the Pretoria Art School (1954–6). At the same time he established his own earthenware studio, specializing in simple white and green wares. He later established a studio near White River and, after working again briefly for ...

Article

Joanna Grabski

(b St Louis, February 6, 1953).

Senegalese glass painter, potter and teacher. She earned an MA in literature at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar (1980), then graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure d'Education Artistique (1983). Her early work in both literature and fine arts dealt with the social role of women in colonial Senegal. In the 1980s and 1990s, she worked primarily with glass painting or sous verre, a medium with a long history in Senegal. Her work advances well-known conventional glass paintings that depict colorful quotidian and religious scenes. She works with a palette of intense hues, applying them across the glass support so as to maximize the expressive potential of the medium. Although she created figural works in the 1980s, her work in the 1990s became increasingly abstract. Her glass paintings, such as Nature (1998; priv. col.), are characterized by their luminescence and large scale. In addition to exhibiting her work in Africa and Europe, she has been involved in a number of educational and humanitarian projects. Her achievements have been recognized by two prestigious awards from the government of Senegal, including the Chevalièr de l’Ordre du Mérite (...

Article

Ghaybi  

[Ghaybī Tawrīzī; Ghaybī al-Shāmī; Ghaibi]

Arab potter. The name is also applied to a pottery workshop active in Syria and Egypt in the mid-15th century. All the products are underglaze-painted in blue and black. A rectangular panel composed of six tiles decorated with a lobed niche in the mosque of Ghars al-Din al-Tawrizi, Damascus (1423), is signed ‛amal ghaybī tawrīzī (‘the work of Ghaybi of Tabriz’), suggesting that he was associated with Tabriz, a noted ceramic centre in north-west Iran. As the interior of the mosque and tomb is decorated with 1362 unsigned but related tiles, Ghaybi must have been the head of a workshop in Damascus. A fragment of a bowl with a typical Egyptian fabric (New York, Met., 1973.79.9) bears the name ghaybī al-shāmī (‘Ghaybi the Syrian’), suggesting that the potter later moved from Syria to Egypt. A square tile from a restoration of the mosque of Sayyida Nafisa in Cairo (Cairo, Mus. Islam. A.) is signed by ...

Article

Thurstan Shaw

Town in Nigeria (pop. c. 15,000 in the 1990s), situated 40 km south-east of Onitsha, which is on the River Niger. The name means ‘Great Igbo’ in the Igbo language. It is also the name given to the ancient culture that produced the elaborate metalwork and ceramics, dated to the 10th century ad, that were found at three sites on the outskirts of the town.

The first site came to light some time before the outbreak of World War II in 1939 while a man, Isaiah Anozie, was digging a cistern. Not far below ground-level he unearthed a highly decorated bronze bowl, and further digging led to the discovery of other bronzes, some of which were given to his neighbours who thought they would make good ‘medicine’. The remaining objects were bought by John Field, the area’s Assistant District Officer, who published an account of the discovery and presented the collection to the Nigerian Federal Department of Antiquities. At the invitation of the Department, the archaeologist ...

Article

Will Rea

(b Kwali, Abuja, ? 1930; d Nigeria, August 12, 1984).

Nigerian potter. She was apprenticed to an aunt who taught her the traditional pottery techniques of the Gwali people, in which pots were made by the coil and pinch techniques and then given an open firing. The three basic shapes were the randa, a large water storage pot, the kasko, a household storage pot, and the tulu, an elaborately decorated storage pot often used in religious festivals. These shapes remained in her repertory throughout her life.

International recognition for Kwali’s skill as a potter began with her collaboration with Michael Cardew. In 1951 Cardew had established the Suleja (now Abuja) pottery training centre and was shown works by Kwali in the collection of the Emir of Suleja. In 1954 Kwali, who had been working as a trader in Minna, joined Cardew at Abuja. Kwali’s most distinctive pots are the fat-bellied tulu with flaring mouth and flat rims. Designs, often of such stylized zoomorphic figures as the chameleon and monkey, set in geometric bands, are scratched in sgraffito through a black slip. Despite his initial reservations, Cardew encouraged Kwali in the use of modern throwing, glazing and firing techniques. The result was a successful blending of an archaic tradition with modern studio technology. In Kwali’s work an innate sense of form and design, derived from producing functional pots, is turned to the production of purely art objects. Her work has won international awards and is represented in the Harmony Foundation, New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (stoneware pot with inlaid decoration, ...

Article

A. E. Duffey

(b Windsor, Berks, March 14, 1941; d Muldersdrif, May 31, 1990).

South African potter of English birth. In 1959 he spent a year at the Brighton College of Art and then went to the St Martin’s School of Art in London. After qualifying in 1963 for a teaching diploma at London University, where one of his lecturers encouraged him to further his training, in 1964 he went to study pottery at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London. In 1965 he moved to South Africa. Initially he tried portrait painting as a living but abandoned it in favour of starting his own pottery studio. With Helen Martin (b 1942) he started a studio in Johannesburg, which lasted only two years. In 1967 he moved to Larsens Farm near Muldersdrif, where he opened a temporary studio. A one-man exhibition at the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, in 1969 marked a turning-point in his career, and he built a permanent studio at Muldersdrif. Until ...

Article

(b London, Sept 9, 1881; d Umtali, South Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe], Feb 20, 1962).

English potter. He attended evening classes in pottery at the Camberwell School of Art, London (c. 1909–12). About 1915–16 he joined Cuthbert Hamilton at the Yeoman Pottery in Kensington, London (closed 1920). After World War I he set up his own pottery at the family engineering firm in Rotherhithe in 1919, moving in 1924 to a new workshop in south-east London where he developed a high-firing, oil-burning kiln, which he patented in 1926. He made large, often wide-shouldered earthenware and stoneware pots and vases, freely painted with abstract designs (‘Wheel of Life’, 1937–9; London, V&A), which he regarded as art forms rather than functional pots. In the 1920s and 1930s he showed his highly priced pots in fine-art galleries with such painters as Ben and Winifred Nicholson and Christopher Wood. From 1926 he was Head of the pottery department at the Royal College of Art, where he was an inspiring if eccentric teacher. In ...

Article

Muslim  

[Muslim ibn al-Dahhān]

(fl c. Cairo, 1000).

Arab potter. Twenty complete or fragmentary lustreware vessels signed by Muslim are known. A fragmentary plate with birds in a floral scroll (Athens, Benaki Mus., 11122) is inscribed on the rim ‘[the work of] Muslim ibn al-Dahhan to please … Hassan Iqbal al-Hakimi’. Although the patron has not been identified, his epithet al-Hakimi suggests that he was a courtier of the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim (reg 996–1021). The other pieces, bowls or bases from them, are decorated with animals, birds, interlaced bands, inscriptions and floral motifs. One complete bowl (New York, Met., 63.178.1) shows a heraldic eagle, a second (Cairo, Mus. Islam. A., 14930) has a central griffin surrounded by palmettes, and a third (Cairo, Mus. Islam. A., 15958) has a design of four white leaves surrounded by an inscription in kufic offering good wishes. Muslim also countersigned objects made by other potters and may have been the master of an important workshop. His work represents the zenith in the animal, floral and abstract decoration of Egyptian lustrewares of the Fatimid period (...

Article

Marla C. Berns

(Anyango Namakhiya)

(b Nairobi, May 5, 1950).

British ceramist of Kenyan birth. Odundo built an international reputation on the creation of rigorously beautiful and conceptually resonant vessel forms. She moved from Kenya to England in 1971 to continue her education, receiving her BA in 1976 from the West Surrey College of Art and Design and an MA in 1982 from the Royal College of Art in London. In 2001 she became professor of ceramics at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design (from 2005 the University for the Creative Arts, Surrey and Kent). Distinctive to her process is the use of millennia-old techniques of hand-coiling she learnt from rural women potters in Nigeria in the early 1970s. While the meticulous working of clay is pivotal to her vessels’ graceful shapes and harmonious balance, it is through the finishing and firing that they are ultimately transformed. They are fired one or more times in a kiln, first in a purely oxidizing environment to turn them a lustrous red–orange, and then again, if desired, in a reducing atmosphere to turn them a rich charcoal-black. The variations in the surface of the latter examples can be dazzling, especially the shimmering explosions of iridescence resulting from accidents in the firing process (...

Article

A. E. Duffey

(b Concordia, nr Springbok, July 3, 1920).

South African potter. He qualified and worked as a chartered accountant until the outbreak of World War II. After five years’ military service in Europe, he worked as a clerk in Cape Town until 1956. He then went back to England and spent six months with Kenneth Quick at the Tregenna Hill Pottery in Cornwall. He returned to South Africa again and worked for six months (1961–2) with Esias Bosch at White River. Bosch persuaded him to become a professional potter, and after his return to Cape Town Rabinowitz established a studio at Eagle’s Nest in Constantia. In 1966–7 he worked with Michael Cardew at Wenfordbridge, Cornwall. Although his motifs reflect the tradition of Cardew and Bernard Leach, he developed a personal style through his use of simple forms and decoration on functional pieces.

F. G. E. Nilant: Contemporary Pottery in South Africa (Cape Town, 1963) G. Clark...

Article

Erin-Moira West

(b Cabo Delgado, 1954).

Mozambican sculptor and potter. She was trained as a potter by the women in her family. When she began to include female figurative elements atop her vessels she transgressed established gender divisions, which may have led to her relocation to Maputo. Her work is decorated with the same incised patterns seen on ceramic containers, the same as those applied to bodies during initiation processes. Based in Makonde beliefs, practices and stories, her pieces are often playful and humorous but also convey a strong sense of cultural belonging and pride. She speaks only Makonde as a political statement against colonialism. Her work has been exhibited in Mozambique, England, Spain and in the first Johannesburg Biennale, in ...

Article

A. E. Duffey

(b Bournemouth, Dec 4, 1942).

South African potter of English birth. He moved to South Africa with his parents in 1947 and trained as a commercial artist at the Durban Art School. After a six-month sculpture course he started a pottery apprenticeship at the Walsh Marais Studio in Durban and continued his training with Sammy Liebermann (1920–84) in Johannesburg. In 1961 he took over the Walsh Marais Studio, but in 1964 he closed it and travelled to Europe, where he met such leading potters as Lucie Rie, Bernard Leach and Michael Cardew. He was invited to work at the Gustavberg factory near Stockholm and later went to Germany, where he started a pottery studio and signed a year’s contract to teach at the art academy in Hamburg. In 1967 he returned to South Africa and in 1968 established a studio at N’Shongweni in Natal. In 1969 he visited Japan and befriended Shōji Hamada, who strongly influenced him. Walford produced mainly functional but individual pieces....