Phil Elson, Hand Thrown Porcelain Tableware

Ceramics has been high up on our list of inspiring subjects lately, although I’m partial to all aspects of the field I seem to be pulled towards porcelain as a material for some reason or another. I think it’s because I like the transparency and the simplicity, it’s quite clean and precise which probably adheres to my sense of aesthetic. Today I wanted to bring into focus the wonderful works of Phil Elson, a maker from Australia, who really caught my eye and funnily enough seems to have a lot in common with our tastes here at OEN. I wasn’t particularly surprised to find out that he’s influenced by Shino ware of Japan, since you can see this this element in his style, but I was intrigued to hear that modernist architecture is also an inspiration. Apparently on a trip to Barcelona his original intent of studying Baroque ceramics and the likes of Picasso and Miro were overtaken by the overwhelming Modernist designs of Montaner, Cadafalch and Gaudi. He liked how they reached into the air, gravitating towards the sky, and they exuded a love of materials, a love of place, a love of life. I think personally it’s amazing how designers influence different creatives in a variety of ways, for example Phil could relate their architectural works into his own field and really find common ground.

Phil didn’t actually begin his quest to be a ceramicist until the age of 29, where he trained for a few years and worked with various potters until he opened his first studio at Tentham. Over the years he’s really explored the way basic tableware functions in terms of human use, testing different sizes, shapes, and colours to see what works best. This seems like a really important part of the process, you have to know if something works or if it doesn’t, and the best way is to make an object and go through a lot of concepts. Luckily for us Phil also makes some exceptional sculptural items, I’m really drawn towards the shapes that start off thin and then are drawn outwards into more of a bowl shape on top, I can definitely see the architectural parallels in these. They remind me of a building and I can see his inspirations from Barcelona in these.

If you’re interested in his actual process I’ve placed a fantastic video below filmed by his son which shows a big bowl being made from start to finish, it’s truly mesmerising and entrancing. Why not have a browse of his portfolio through the web link underneath as well, you’re sure to find some creative work that will finish off the day nicely.


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