Sussex Wheels: Ceramic Art

When Grayson Perry won the Turner Prize in 2003, the shock value was not that he was a cross-dresser with an alter ego, but that a ceramicist could take the award. Looked down upon for far too long – in the West at least – as a mere decorative art form, ceramics have been on the up ever since. The popularity of Edmund de Vaal’s Hare with the Amber Eyes (2010) and the success of Channel 4’s The Great Pottery Throw Down added to the atmosphere, and The Guardian recently declared ‘the world is going potty over pots.’ The number of galleries showing contemporary ceramics at the world’s leading art fairs has increased tenfold over the last decade and sustained high prices at auction prove it’s not just a passing phase. It is time to jump on this bandwagon, if you haven’t already, and make sure that you have at least one fabulous ceramic work of art on display. Sculptural, figurative, architectural or functional, the choice is yours – just make sure it is made in china.

Read our collector’s guide to buying ceramic art in Sussex.

Curator’s Guide:

Lucy Burley. Cream and Green group.

Lucy Burley, Cream and Green group

Burley is inspired by the still life paintings of Morandi, and by the colours of the sky, the seashore, precious stones, plants and trees. Her vessels are thrown on the wheel using white earthenware clay, and then glazed with a smooth semi-matte earthenware glaze of her own formulation. Visit her website by clicking here, or alternatively you can purchase her work through Watts Gallery.

Ring Form 'Black Flair' by Martin Pearce.

Martin Pearce, Ring Form ‘Black Flair’ 18 x 38 x 38cm

Pearce creates abstract biomorphic pieces – hand-built using Earthstone white stoneware – that often portray a state of flux: the qualities of moving water or cloud forms. ‘My work is an ongoing dialogue with clay. I create a balance of light and shadow, solid and void to provoke the imagination, memory and dream,’ he says. Pearce’s work is available from Contemporary Ceramics in London. Visits to his studio in St Leonards are by appointment only, or browse online at

Ada & Eve by Julia Albert-Recht.

Julia Albert-Recht, Ada & Eve, 26 x 5 cm, ceramic dish

Albert-Recht specialises in wheel-thrown and hand-built functional and decorative earthenware pottery. She retired from a career as an aid worker to create modern ceramics with a wonderfully whimsical bent. She works from ‘a wee Scottish studio’. You can view her work online at, and she is also stocked by Hove’s Cameron Contemporary.

Jane Sarre, Exchange

Sarre is a Hastings-based ceramicist with a stellar client list, including the likes of Jamie Oliver and Heatherwick Studio. She makes ‘sculpture to intrigue the curious’ inspired by functional architecture and edgeland places. Her process entails walking, drawing and photography on site, followed by collage and tape-drawing in the studio, then hand-building with stoneware clays for reduction high-firing with patinated surfaces created with oxides, stains and engobes. Her work is stocked by Omega Studio in St Leonards. Or buy from her online shop at

Rosa Wiland Holmes, RWH-198, 13.5x14cm

Holmes grew up on the beautiful, isolated island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, where her influences were shaped by the environment: ‘sea foam on the sand, rain glistening on granite or the cracked and crazed bed of a dried-up summer stream’. Winner of The Great Pottery Throw Down 2020, her ceramics have been sold at Cameron Contemporary, Hove. You can view her work online here.

Sara Dodd, Swell. 33x33cm, porcelain in wooden frame

Dodd has become known for her sculptures and wall-based installations made up of wafer-thin pieces of porcelain that defy notions of fragility and strength. She exhibits internationally, at fairs including the London Art Fair, and has been selected for the RA Summer Exhibition and ING Discerning Eye.

Lisa Jones, Mega Mokiri, ceramic and spray paint, 2022.

Photo by Jonathan Bassett

Jones makes playful hand-built forms that she describes as ‘colourful, slightly odd and wobbly’. She is drawn to subverting the conventions of what makes a functional object and finds inspiration in museums and browsing catalogues in search of unusual things from the past, as well as personal stories. Her signature textures and matte colour are often accompanied by anthropomorphic appendages.

Read our interview with Lisa here.

Tim Copsey, BLACK WATERFALL TOKKURI (Pouring Bottle), stoneware with cobalt detail, granite inclusions, gold lustre and ‘glitter’ glaze, 130 x 130mm

Copsey says his aim is to forget about perfect form and technique; to embrace chance and investigate functional pottery on a sculptural level. His perfectly imperfect pots are ‘multiply fired, often starting with the wood kiln and ending with lustres.’ Copsey’s work caught our eye at Artwave in 2021, and more recently at the London Art Fair with Rabley Gallery.

Experts’ tips on buying ceramic art

As always, the best advice is to buy what you love. But expert tips are useful. Three Sussex gallerists share their views:

‘Go and visit public collections of studio pottery, such as the V&A, York Museum, Fitzwilliam or Hove Museum. There are some great publications out there and a number of good ceramics fairs held around the country. Get an idea of what you like and then try to purchase the best examples of their work that you can afford. Collecting domestic ware is a really affordable way to start a collection, and you can use the pots too.’

Mike Daniels, Miar Ceramics & Arts, Brighton.

‘I look at form mainly, and then finish. I feel its weight and balance and overall aesthetic. It’s no good having a beautiful finish if the form is wrong. Good craftsmanship is important. It is evident if the artist is sympathetic towards their materials and if they have technical skill and knowledge of their medium. The work needs to have honesty and intent.’

Ann Symes, Gallery 57, Arundel.

‘Ceramics is the most tactile of art forms, so handle a piece before you buy it. Look at how it has been made and feel the material, the weight and most importantly of all, the touch of the maker. When selecting, buy works that you love, would like to live with, and that fit in with your environment.’

Kay Aplin, The Ceramic House, Brighton.