One special commission: CR meets Krystyna Sargent

Tom Kerridge photograph by Cristian Barnett.

Portrait by Cristian Barnett

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Last year we met three ceramists whose tableware was commissioned by chef Tom Kerridge for his restaurants. Continuing that theme, we talk to ceramist Krystyna Sargent, whose large stoneware pieces have featured in Kerridge’s latest book, Tom’s Table

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Where did you train and where do you practice?
I trained at De Montfort University from 1981, when it was Leicester Polytechnic; it was a three-year BA course in 3D Design: Ceramics & Glass. After graduating in 1984 I opened my own studio in Countesthorpe, Leicestershire. From 2006 I took a break of several years out of ceramics to focus on other things and to travel. When I’m in Leicester I use a shared studio facility in the city.

How would you describe your ceramic work?
My work is about contrasts and extremes – my tableware consists of the tiniest little bowls and huge platters. There are all sizes in-between, of course, but it’s the opposite ends of the range that I find the most exciting. My stoneware bowls, plates and platters are all hand-built very quickly and I hope the spontaneity of the process shows through. I try to give each piece the impression of a found artefact, aged and crackled, with little glints of metals and suggestions of old carvings.

What are the challenges in your making?
The challenges I am faced with are mainly in ensuring that all the processes I use marry to form a seamless whole. I use a number of glazes and lustres and three or four firings to get the finished effects, so a lot can go wrong along the way. Any one of the processes can let any of the others down, so I try not to be too precious. I get into my zone and try to work bravely, boldly and spontaneously.

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Photo courtesy Krystyna Sargent/Bloomsbury Publishing

Photo courtesy Krystyna Sargent/Bloomsbury Publishing

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What are your goals?
I want to work in collaboration with designers and stylists at the forefront of trend. Fashions and markets in ceramics constantly change and I love working on new ideas, exploring possibilities and keeping my work contemporary.

How did your commission for the Tom Kerridge project come about – and what was the brief?
Tom’s stylist approached me last year to see if I would like to be involved in his book, which I was told was to feature only one-off ceramics. Tom had looked at my website and had chosen six pieces he would like to use. Interestingly, they were the three largest and three smallest pieces of tableware I produce.

How would you describe the pieces that were chosen?
The pieces were two large stoneware platters – a 15-inch diameter glossy, white crackled dish, and a 13-inch black and gold dish. Both have my characteristic rough edges and metallic highlights.

Have you had any other such commissions?
Tom’s project was my first commission for tableware, as I have spent most of my career producing decorative ceramics. Early on I was commissioned to produce three large floor vases for the Roux Brothers’ restaurant in Bray, Berkshire.

What are you working on next?
Tom’s book has inspired me to work to produce a greater range of highly practical tableware, based on my decorative platters and bowls.

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Tom’s Table: My Favourite Everyday Recipes is published by Bloomsbury. Discover more about Krystyna’s work at krystynasargent.com 

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