WAAL, Edmund de

Edmund de Waal, CBE   British 1964-

Edmund de Waal is a contemporary English artist, potter and author. He is known for his large-scale installations of porcelain vessels often created in response to collections and archives or the history of a particular place.

De Waal was educated at The King’s School, Canterbury where he was taught pottery by the potter Geoffrey Whiting, who was a student of Bernard Leach. At 17, de Waal began a two-year apprenticeship with Whiting, deferring his entry into University of Cambridge. During the apprenticeship de Waal made hundreds of earthenware and stoneware pots, such as casseroles and honey pots. In 1983, de Waal took up his place at Trinity Hall, Cambridge to read English and graduated with first class honours in 1986.

Following graduation, de Waal began to follow the discipline of British studio pottery finally moving to Sheffield in 1988 and began experimenting with working in porcelain.

In 1990 de Waal spent a year obtaining a post-graduate diploma in Japanese language at Sheffield University and continued an additional year’s study. Whilst studying in Japan at the Mejiro Ceramics studio de Waal began to make series of porcelain jars with pushed-in, gestural sides, arranged in groups and sequences.

On returning to Britain in 1993, de Waal settled in London  and began making his distinctive ceramics, porcelain with a celadon glaze. Focusing on essentially classical vessel shapes but with the inclusion of indentations or pinches and subtle variations in tone and texture in the style de Waal began while in Japan, these pots slowly gained the attention of the British craft industry leading to his first exhibition.

In the years since 2000 de Waal has moved away from making and exhibiting single domestic use vessels to the production of groups of vessels and objects to be viewed in relation to openings and spaces, later moving into predominately wall-mounted and freestanding vitrines filled with varying multitudes of his porcelain vessels, and most recently the addition of different kinds of metals, metallic gilding, porcelain shards and sheets of porcelain with embossed handwriting.

He lives and works in London.

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