A sustainable boom for ceramics

The Guardian newspaper has reported on a Renaissance in the world of ceramics, with record auction prices, packed out pottery classes, Instagram heaven and a wealth of talented designers who are pushing the boat of innovation to new shores.


An elegant pot by late British potter, Hans Coper, which depicts ancient Aegean figures, was first sold in the 1970s for £250 and recently made £381,000 at auction, a figure to compare with Ming dynasty or Picasso vessels.

Whilst Coper is a giant of British studio pottery with works in museums from London to New York, the exceptional price – more than double the previous record for a Coper pot – reflects what feature writer, Amy Fleming, sees as “something of a boom” in the world of ceramics.

Ceramic Art London, which took place towards the end of March, saw queues snaking around Central St Martins College as pottery fans lined up to obtain exclusive contemporary pieces, with prices ranging from £30 to £10,000. The Barbican’s conservatory held a similarly successful ceramics fair, showcasing 60 artists from the Turning Earth collective, whilst the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, is currently celebrating a “spring of ceramics.”



The British Craft Trade Fair, hosted a fabulous cross-section of ceramicists, one of the show’s most important and distinctive product categories. Young ceramicist, Charlotte Hupfield, won the prestigious Award for Excellence, sponsored by The Giftware Association. Her fellow ceramics maker, Sarah Saunders, was commended in the BCTF Award for Excellence.

The young and talented designers also reflect the appeal of ceramics to younger collectors, who are responding to the handmade, one-off quality of ceramics, and showing a willingness to spend more on unique objects they will cherish and keep over the years. This is partly in defiance of the single-use, throwaway culture which has wreaked havoc on the environment.

Pottery classes are booming according to Toby Brundin, director of Ceramic Art London, who says the popular appeal goes hand-in-hand with other DIY trends such as knitting, craft beer brewing, cheese making, felting and other homespun crafty pursuits. He also pointed out that Instagram is helping young, social media savvy ceramicists to build successful businesses online.


BBC2 TV programme, The Great Pottery Throw Down, which ran from 2015-2017, has also contributed to the rising popularity of ceramics for gift, home and hobby. Once undervalued because of its originally – less than sophisticated -association with rustic crafts, there is plenty of room for upward growth in the ceramics market.


Featured images from top to bottom: Martha’s Grandad, the record breaking Hans Coper vessel, Gin Durham, Emma Williams, Charlotte Hupfield, Sarah Saunders, Gwen Bainbridge, Connie Taylor, Gwen Bainbridge, Ann Povey, Fired Up and Painting