Interpreting Ceramics | issue 11 | 2009

Articles & Reviews

(*)(*) (*) (*)  

Zelli Porcelain Award 2009

Peter Holmes

Contents | Home

Ceramics in the West Midlands in the Late 18th Century: Production and Consumption through the Eyes of Katherine Plymley

by Jo Dahn

National Identity and the Problem of Style in the Post-War British Ceramic Industry

by Graham McLaren

Pushing the Boundaries of Ceramic Art Tradition in Nigeria: Notes on the ‘Suyascape’ Project

by Ozioma Onuzulike

Ceramics Without the Ceramics: Material Exploration in New Territories

by Jane Webb

Studio Pottery in Britain 1900-2000, book review

by Graham McLaren

Confrontational Ceramics: Artist as Social Critic book review by Garth
Clark, followed by a response by the author Judith S. Schwartz and
comments from our readers

Zelli Porcelain Award 2009, Competition review

by Peter Holmes

NB. A Word document is available to download at the end of each article.

The 2009 Zelli Award for porcelain sculpture took place at the Zelli Gallery in London’s West End on Thursday 22 October.


This year’s competition had as its theme eight European proverbs, each from a different language. To qualify, the pieces had to be fired to a minimum of 1260C, that magical (or maddening) moment when the clay vitrifies into hard-paste porcelain.

What began in 2002 as a challenge to British ceramicists to try their hands at porcelain sculpture (‘to encourage risk-taking,’ says Penelope Higham, Zelli’s proprietor), by this year had become a truly international event. Over five hundred artists from thirty-six countries worldwide applied to take part in this, the sixth award.

By adjudication day, the entries had been whittled down to fifty-six, many from distinguished and prize-winning exhibitors. The panel of judges were faced with a particularly difficult series of decisions on account of the imagination, vitality and technical skill shown by the entrants. The proverbs, ranging widely through human experience, had resulted in an equally wide range of interpretations.

Happily, an exceptionally well-qualified trio of judges was present – Sister Wendy Beckett, internationally known as a presenter of TV programmes on art and author of books on art history; Dr Jeffrey Jones, a lecturer on ceramics at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, and a writer on British ceramics; and Igor Klimenkoff, proprietor of the Porcelain Studio Klimenkoff who manufacture porcelain figures in Moscow.

All aspects of the art and craft of porcelain – aesthetic, academic and manufacturing – were thereby covered.

The judges considered the exhibits in the morning and deliberated over lunch in a nearby restaurant, while artists and families met at the gallery for refreshments and their own discussions. On returning, Sister Wendy Beckett spoke on behalf of her colleagues, and having congratulated the artists on the quality of their work proceeded to announce the prizewinners.

The First Prize of £3000 went to Stephanie Quayle for her elephant group illustrating the Spanish proverb ‘Dime con quien andas, y te dire con quien eres’ (‘Tell me who you walk with and I will tell you who you are’). An additional prize of £500 for the Best Use of Colour was awarded to Kate Thompson, and Eleanor Bartleman, Clive Soord and Lindsay West received Highly Commended certificates.  Special mention was also made of the work of Rachel Grimshaw.



© The copyright of all the images in this article rests with the author unless otherwise stated


Zelli Porcelain Award 2009 • Issue 11

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