These beautiful terracotta boards, bowls and vessels are the work of Silvia K, an award-winning Brighton-based ceramicist and you can find them at The New Craftsmen shop and website. Silvia was born and brought up in a small village in Slovakia in the heart of a rural farming community, and it’s this heritage that informs her work today. Her forms and surface decorations are the product of her study of Slovakian folklore and peasant artifacts, as Sylvia explains:
“The inspiration behind my collection is my heritage. I’ve moved away from my country Slovakia in 1999 and on my visits I’m not interested in the new, instead, I find fascination within the old relics that transport to a different time and place.
I spend a lot of time watching old films about folklore, reading books, or searching for photographs in the Slovak Ethnographical Digital Archives, looking for peasant artifacts.
I am captivated by simple beauty of agrarian vessels used mainly for gathering and storing harvest; large herdsmen buckets, wicker baskets, or small forest fruit pickers”.
Image via The New Craftsmen: Photograph by Igor Grossmann, Scored glazed terracotta bowl by Silvia K.
A major source of inspiration for Silvia is the photographer Igor Grossmann, who during the 1950’s recorded the landscapes, people and customs of Slovak mountain villages, capturing a centuries-old way of life that was slowly disappearing as the modern age took over.
Silvia came to the UK in 1999 to study English, but fell in love with Brighton and “never managed to leave”. She studied for a Masters degree at Brighton University, specialising in ceramics and visual research, and upon graduating (with Distinction) in 2012 set up her studio Silvia K Ceramics. Awards soon followed, including the New Designers One Year On Award in 2013.
Silvia works with a type of clay called Earthstone Terracotta Crank which improves the durability of her vessels, as well as being sympathetic to the traditional pots of her country. She hand mixes her coloured slips and glazes and also uses the sgraffito technique to create scored marks and designs inspired by her native countryside. You can see Silvia at work in this short, fascinating video below, creating a large vessel from flat slabs of clay using handmade wooden moulds, and talking about the various inspirations behind her processes and designs.
Harvest from R&A Collaborations on Vimeo.
One of Silvia’s distinctive trademarks is her use of leather straps that she incorporates into her work. Do watch the video if you haven’t already, as she explains how this came about – partly expedience in the making process, partly as an affectionate nod to her grandfathers’s habit of repairing and upcycling old buckets and baskets.
You can read more about Silvia’s work at The New Craftsmen website, but if you’re in or visiting London, they have a wonderful new permanent shop at 34 North Row, W1 – just 2 minutes from Selfridges on Oxford Street. They’re occupying the ground floor of a beautiful arts and crafts period building which was originally designed and built in the 19th century as a workshop for a firm of leather-breeches-makers – a very apt new home, we feel, for the heart and soul of modern British craftsmanship.
Images: The New Craftsmen