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New Records Set at Ladi Kwali & the Art of Clay Sale

London – WEBWIRE


Ladi Kwali & The Art of Clay

16 Feb - 2 Mar 2023

London, New Bond Street

Ladi Kwali

(Nigerian, circa 1925-1984)

Vessel 51.5 x 39 x 39cm (20 1/4 x 15 3/8 x 15 3/8in).

There were impressive results for the Bonhams sale celebrating the Abuja Pottery Training Centre and the work of black women ceramicists, Abuja! Ladi Kwali & The Art of Clay, which ran from 16 February to 2 March on The top lot, Vessel by Ladi Kwali, sold for £28,020, against a pre-sale estimate of £10,000-15,000.

Vessel by Lami Toto achieved £11,475 against a pre-sale estimate of £5,000 - £8,000, whilst Water Vessel by Asibi Ido sold for £14,025, against a presale estimate of £4,000-6,000. Both were new auction records for the artists. Two tankards by Ladi Kwali sold individually for £4,845 each, both against pre-sale estimates of £600-900 – setting new world records for the pieces.

Helene Love-Allotey, Bonhams Head of Sale, said: “Abuja pottery is finally gaining more appreciation from collectors and museums, after long being overlooked. We are delighted with the results of this specially curated online sale, and to have shone a light not just on Ladi Kawi, but also on other wonderful black women ceramicists – setting new world records in the process.”

The Abuja Pottery Training Centre in Suleja (formerly called Abuja) was set up by British potter Michael Cardew in the 1950s. Students specialised in specific types of ceramicware, often mixing local Gwari pottery hand-building techniques, traditional shapes and decorations with Western pottery motifs.

Dr Jareh Das, curator of the recent Body Vessel Clay: Black Women, Ceramics and Contemporary Art exhibition at Two Temple Place London, commented: “Ladi Kwali’s vessels are her most famous and celebrated work. I love their intricate designs meticulously inscribed with a variety of animal and geometric patterns. They are handbuilt in the Gwari tradition, which is passed down from mother to daughter (or aunt in Kwali’s case)...

”When Kwali joined Michael Cardew’s pottery training centre in 1954 as the first female trainee, she was introduced to modern techniques of glazing and high-temperature kiln firing—transforming once functional objects for storing water into collectable decorative works"

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