the wabi-sabi in the earthy ceramics of elspeth owen

When I look at the marvelous rough-hewn ceramics of English artist Elspeth Owen, I immediately think of wabi-sabi, the simple and pure lifestyle and decor readily introduced to the mainstream by master decorator Axel Vervoordt.  It’s this element of humble grace in her work that makes me sing.

Her approach to her métier is really quite simple:  the ceramics – pots, vessels, bowls, jars – are made with one piece of clay and it’s this one “blob” of earth that defines the size of her wares; no additions, no frills. Each vessel is molded to show the process it went through and she embraces knicks, bruises and discoloration as battle marks much like the ones suffered by any human or object with the passage of time.  And so her vessels are delicate yet resilient; unfiltered and direct yet beautiful and poetic.  And for all their “imperfection”, each ceramic piece evokes stillness and tranquility. They’re really quite sensational.
Elspeth Owen was an academic, social worker and teacher before learning her art by going to night school.  She currently operates out of her studio near Cambridge, England and has exhibited mainly in Europe and North America.  Her works are part of significant public collections such as London’s V&A and Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum. But to me what’s most remarkable is that her ceramics are authentic and timeless; elements that make them fit into any style of interior.
image credits: Oxford Ceramics, Oxford who represents the artist.  Oxford Ceramics is one of the best sources for contemporary ceramics and studio pottery in England. With a heartfelt thanks to my bro Tim Warner-Johnson for making the introduction to the artist.

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PS: Thank you for stopping by and reading my feature today.  I love what I do as an interior designer and art advisor, and it’s my hope that through these blog posts I’m enriching and heightening your aesthetic sensibility towards art, design and fabulous interiors in some way ~ Richard Rabel (a.k.a. the modern sybarite)

  • Sarah Gee

    Elspeth’s work is open and engaging, as she is herself. It is a wonder to hold one of her pieces in the hand, to turn it, feel it and ‘heft’ it. It permits a direct understanding of the making process and its importance to the maker. The intensity and generosity she works into the clay is patent.

    • themodernsybarite

      Thank you Sarah. I can agree more.