“Elegant, and not too shouty”: that’s the intention behind ceramist Ben Sutton’s porcelain vases and bowls, which are influenced by a childhood partly spent in Finland.
“There’s definitely quite a strong Scandi influence in terms of minimalism,” he adds. His palette is very simple – mostly white, with occasional, considered, colour – and he plays with glazed and unglazed surfaces to add appealing texture. Ben veered away from a planned career in science policy to pursue ceramics instead, and makes his work alone in a north London studio; far from being “shouty”, his pieces have a contemplative, pared-back aesthetic that makes them perfect for a peaceful home.
Porcelain is a “diva”, says Ben, and requires a very careful approach. “If you dry it too quickly, if it’s too uneven in thickness, if you don’t trim it at the right time, it will crack.” He begins by “wedging” the clay – kneading it to remove air bubbles.
He throws the porcelain, gives it time to dry, then continues to work on it. With each vase, he uses a tool to trim the base back, giving it a more tapered shape.
Each piece is fired, sanded and washed, fired again and then glazed. “Everything is unglazed on the outside and glazed only on the inside, but I sand the outside several times, and that makes it very smooth and tactile.
“The Orbit vase has two openings, as though the little one is in orbit around the big one.”