Expert Eye: A New Dimension

Incorporating ceramics and sculpture into your home can be daunting. Author, curator and ceramics expert Amber Creswell Bell talks us through the dos and don’ts of adding dimension into your home.

Ceramics have been around for millennia, but over the past six years or so I think it is fair to say that they have enjoyed a near explosive global revival, thanks in part to the powerful visual platform of Instagram. This is a trend that does not appear to be abating, and collecting such objects has become far from niche.

For as long as I have been curating art exhibitions, I have displayed ceramics and paintings together in the gallery context, as I believe each elevates the other in a way that creates so much visual interest and narrative drama. Those same principles apply to displaying ceramics in the home.

Broadly speaking, ceramics can be described as either functional or sculptural – and while I still observe some trepidation with the latter – both are the perfect vehicles for adding dimension and personality to the home. One of the most common things that I get asked in the gallery when showing ceramics is “does it hold water?”.

I think that people take comfort in knowing that the piece has a purpose. But it is important to shift that mindset to also embrace ceramic sculptures as objects unto themselves.

The true beauty of ceramics is that they perfectly bear the mark of their maker, and inherent to each piece is a sense of tactility and texture that comes from being made from a natural material, and also by the human hand, which adds instant warmth to a room in the same way timber, stone and textiles do.

These are some of my key tips for incorporating ceramics into the home.

TIP 1 / INVEST IN BIG

Don’t fall into the trap of playing it safe and only buying lots of little pieces, as they will soon take on the feel of knick-knacks. Variety in scale will be far more interesting and will feel more visually balanced. Save up and buy that big statement piece!

TIP 2 / GROUP

Ceramics look particularly harmonious when grouped in threes (or any odd numbers), so look for pieces that might be united by form, texture or colour. Look for ceramics and paintings in your home that have a palette in common and place them together. Let them create a dialogue or moment amongst themselves.

TIP 3 / CHANGE IT UP

Unlike wall art, ceramics offer the versatility of ever-changing placement. Move things around regularly and play with different combinations of pieces. The possibilities to display ceramics are almost endless and might include mantelpieces, coffee tables, bookshelves, wall niches, bedside tables, sideboards, kitchen benches, lamp tables, entry tables, bathroom windowsills, and as a dining table centrepiece. The sky is the limit, so be creative.

TIP 4 / MORE THAN VASES

Don’t just limit yourself to vases. Ceramics can be in the form of sculptures, candlesticks, ring dishes, fruit bowls, pinch pots, mugs, planters, soap holders, tableware, lamp bases and more. They don’t need to do anything! Consider a single ceramic sculpture as the feature piece on your coffee table, or anywhere you might otherwise display a vase of flowers.

TIP 5 / FOR THE LOVE OF IT

Don’t over-think it. Buy pieces that you love and that speak to you. If you love a piece, you will always find a place for it in your home.

Feature image: Tantri Mustika sculptures styled by Janneke Coyle. COURTESY: THE ARTIST. Photo: Stephanie Rooney.

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