betty blandino

coiled pottery

 1927-2011

Born in London she studied painting and pottery at Goldsmith's College, London. Between 1973 and 1988 she lived in Wales before moving to Oxford. She used the hand building techniques of coiling and pinching to create thin walled sculptural vessels. The exterior of the vessels were sometimes brushed with oxidies and slips but often left unglazed. She is the author of a number of books including "Coiled Pottery, Traditional and Contemporary Ways", A&C Black (1985, 2003), and "The Figure in Fired Clay" (2001).



'My work is made using the simplest of means, needing only scraping tools, clay and hands. Changing the soft, lumpen clay into a permanent form of dignity is the essence of work. Ideally I want each shape to spring up with its own unique life – a calm, poised, aloof, mysterious object. These pots are hand-built by pinching and coiling; in the forming the thin walls are pushed and stretched outward, enclosing more and more air, until sometimes it seems as though the rounded, pregnant bodies will burst. The organic vitality of the making is contradicted by the refining of the surface necessary to define clearly the often asymmetric and changing silhouette and the volume within. I find there is a tension between wanting the clay to speak its nature and the object to be what it has become; between the primitive immediacy of hands in mud – whose tactile delight so attracted me to the medium – and the slow, reflective nature of the process. Certainly there is a gap between what I want to do and what I am able to achieve. I am aware of influences: the beauty and delicacy of Lucie Rie’s bowls and the timeless pots of Hans Coper – which I saw in exhibition long before I started potting; all things archaic that bear the mark of wear; frescoes by Piero della Francesca; aged walls; the marks of early Mark Tobey paintings; the sculpture of Branscusi and Henry Moore; the harmonious space of small Umbrian Romanesque Churches; Benin bronzes, Kansu pots – and many more.'