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Ceramic Review is the magazine for contemporary and historical ceramics, ceramic art and pottery.

Ceramic Review Issue 328

July/August 2024

The ceramicist takes us through the processes she uses to create one of her large wheel-thrown porcelain vases, which she makes in two parts and joins

I trained at Camberwell School of Art and the Royal College of Art, then spent a few years living in America teaching and making at Syracuse University in New York. I have had a studio in London since 1991, my current one is based at my home in South London. I fell in love with throwing over time. I was selling my vases through the Conran Shop in the 1990s and needed to speed up the production process. The switch from handbuilding to throwing was initially a pragmatic choice and then became a definite preference. Practicality has never been my primary motivation when developing shape, although my creative dialogue has always been with vases and bowls.

While exhibiting at Ceramic Art London (CAL) in 2007, I realised I needed to change direction with my ceramic practice. Until then I had been working with unglazed polished stoneware, but I realised it was the beautiful purity of porcelain that most appealed to me. It was ten years before I felt confident enough to fully launch my porcelain, which I did at CAL in 2017. I have never regretted the shift.

Anna Silverton | Photograph by Layton Thompson

Anna Silverton | Photograph by Layton Thompson

My process focusses on gradual renewal of form and meticulous finish. With porcelain, I enjoy the balance between the softness of throwing and the precision of turning, the dense purity of the fired porcelain and its fragile translucency. There is further exploration of formal balance in the profile of my pieces, through expansion and constraint; elegance and visual playfulness. The surfaces are smooth, articulated and punctuated by incised lines and differences in the texture and colour of my glazes. I am attracted to minimalism, but also seek a more sensual simplicity. 

The first Covid lockdown in March 2020, happened just after my show at the Contemporary Ceramics Centre in London with Ali Tomlin and Emily Myers, and just before CAL 2020 was cancelled. The upheaval triggered another change in my practice. I decided to explore more intense colour in my glazes; partially as a response to having more time with galleries closed but also due to the increased online interaction with supportive collectors and enthusiasts who have encouraged me. 

Outside my studio practice, I also work part-time as Programme Manager of the HND Ceramics Course at Morley College. It is a worthwhile role, a chance to develop and expand crucial higher educational opportunities in ceramics for people of all ages. This Masterclass feature describes my processes for making one of my larger wide top vases, which I create in two parts. I make smaller vases and bowls in one piece and my very large pieces can be made in three parts, using essentially the same techniques.   

For more details visit annasilverton.com


Works by Anna Silverton | Photograph by Layton Thompson