Saturday Art Club – Figurative Ceramics with Chris Bramble

For this Black History Month-themed Saturday Art Club, we are looking at a vase by artist Chris Bramble in our Gallery 4 exhibition, “Domestic Bliss”.

The ancient art of pottery has existed in many different cultures all over the world. From Greek ‘Amphora’ pots, to striking Chinese Ming Dynasty vases coloured with blue and white glazes, it is amazing what can be created using clay.

The shape of a pot has long been compared to the shape of a human body, see the image below. The very top rim of the pot is known as the lip which flows to the neck, down to the shoulder and ending at the very bottom of the pot with the foot.

The pot by the ceramicist Chris Bramble included in the Gallery 4 Domestic Bliss exhibition has the image of a face of African origin painted on with glaze. Bramble says of his work:

My hand-crafted pots and ceramic sculpture bring together my interest in the European sculptural tradition, and the love of African craftsmanship, shape and form. Sculpted faces and torsos emerge from the wheel-thrown vessels and shapes. Making each of my pieces is a meditation, and a spiritual and emotional activity which I can share with everyone.

Chris Bramble
Chris Bramble, vase, circa 1986, stoneware; glaze; paint.

Chris Bramble studied Art and Design at the Glasgow School of Art and spent ten years working in the city. He moved to London in 1989 and set up his pottery studio in Kilburn. He now exhibits and sells his pots as well as teaching in schools and colleges across London. Bramble mixes traditions from African and European art traditions, and often makes pots shaped as faces and body parts.

Artist Chris Bramble with some of his face-shaped creations, © Doddington Hall

Why not have some fun creating some human-shaped pots using up some more of the toilet roll tubes that you have been collecting? This is a very simple technique. All you will need are:

  • toilet roll tubes
  • scissors
  • sellotape
  • coloured felt tip pens, crayons, or paint (try to stick to earthy, natural colours such as brown, grey, reds and oranges).

Begin by cutting and assembling a few tubes together. Try to focus upon the main areas of the body such as torso (body), shoulder, neck and head. Use sellotape to tape together toilet roll tubes. You can cut them into strips to make arms and legs or other details like hair.

Now use felt tip pens, crayons or paint to add eyes, nose, mouth, hair and coloured clothes. What are your pots doing? You can give them funny expressions and poses!

Have fun with this activity and share your creations with us!

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