Catherine Ash, the ceramist working behind Ash Ceramics, brings her training as a sculptor into the delicate art of ceramics.
She designs and creates ceramic pieces that are both decorative and functional and her creations include small, fun tableware items such as bowls and plates, as well as bigger sculptural pieces.
While it’s not bone china, it certainly deserves a place in the display cabinet.
When I first started sourcing products from South Africa, I was looking for talented artisans who create unique pieces that don’t follow trends. Artisans with the ability to create pieces that are timeless and a representation of their own artistic style. I very soon realised that Ash Ceramics fit this profile perfectly.
Catherine Ash is playing matchmaker to an unlikely pair: ceramics and geometry. Her pieces possess a quaint hand-made aesthetic and are one-off creations of which she only makes a handful of variations.
In 2015 she was voted an Emerging Creative at the Design Indaba annual festival where she has held an exhibition for a number of years. Freelance arts writer, Khumo Sebambo, interviewed Catherine for the festival:
What techniques do you use?
I mostly hand-build my pieces but I have also made a mould of a few pieces so that I can slip cast them or press mould them. Then I hand paint and glaze every piece.
Talk us through your work – some of the more conceptual elements or elements that aren’t apparent in the final product?
I don’t think that my work is very conceptual or at least it was never meant to be. I simply try to make objects that are aesthetically pleasing and unique.
Ceramics and pottery are age-old crafts. How have ceramics managed to survive the changing and modern times?
Yes, ceramics is an age-old craft but there is always a need and want for it. The medium itself dates back centuries but the design is ever-changing, just like fashion and other functional design.
How do you describe your current body of work?
I would describe it as fun and contemporary. I am loving the trendy geometric design at the moment and cannot resist incorporating it into my designs.
Tell us about the use of colour and its importance in your creations.
Adding colour to my pieces is another great design element and I love playing with that.
Your ceramics have a contemporary look. What’s the battle between that and more classic sensibilities?
The classics are done well – very well, in fact, so therefore I am trying to stay away from creating “classical” pieces. I also love contemporary, simple and clean design so it has never really been a battle of which way to take my ceramics.
Do you feel that your style is evolving naturally and organically, or is there a niche you have seen and are purposefully working to fill?
I try to keep my style as natural as possible so that my work stays unique and original, but I also admire many artists and brands that help me keep my focus on my aspirations.
As a South African, does your environment influence your work? Yes, definitely, and South Africa is such a stunning country to be influenced by. I love the vibrancy, colours and cultures of the Cape and I am sure some of these aspects are evident in my work.
What’s in the future? Any pieces you’ve been itching to make?
I cannot wait to make a large ceramic sculpture or a really large vessel that will fill the whole kiln. I have a few ideas that will hopefully take shape in the next few months.
We are so honoured to be able to showcase a few of Catherine’s beautiful pieces at Cotton & Clay! And I for one, can’t wait to see what the future holds for Ash Ceramics!