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Jennifer Lee on craft, ceramics and her own way of working

Scottish ceramicist and LOEWE Craft Prize 2018 winner Jennifer Lee took to the Collect stage at Saatchi Gallery.

Joined by director of collections at the V&A Antonia Boström, and president of the LOEWE Craft Prize jury Anatxu Zabalbeascoa, Jennifer discussed her hugely varied and international career, the intricacies of her practice and the impact of the Prize.

Whilst known for using ancient coiling techniques and primary materials, Jennifer’s combination of metallic oxides and clay - then left to transform for decades - render her practice unique and timeless. This concept of evolution is central to her work and as the clay changes so do her thought processes and the vessels themselves.

I do everything backwards. I start by looking at test tiles, choose the colours I’m going to use, then I take notes but I draw the pots after firing not before. So I’m doing it like an experiment.

Widely praised for manifesting nature - rather than imitating it - Jennifer's unglazed work moved LOEWE creative director Jonathan Anderson to comment that ‘Jennifer Lee for me is a landmark in form’. Impressing the Craft Prize jury across the board, she was awarded the generous 50,000 euro prize last year.

Jennifer Lee's winning piece: 'Pale, shadowed speckled traces, fading elipse, bronze specks, tilted shelf'. Courtesy LOEWE Foundation. 

Reflecting LOEWE’s inception as a craft cooperative in 1856, the LOEWE Craft Prize was set up in 2016 to celebrate exceptional modern craft and to champion its importance in today’s world. Now in its third year, the LOEWE Foundation revealed the 29 international artists selected for the Craft Prize 2019 shortlist in February.

Craft is always going to be modern. It is about creating objects that have a formula of their own and speak their own language, creating a dialogue that didn't exist before. It is about newness as much as it is about tradition.

Jonathan Anderson, LOEWE Creative Director

Applications for the Craft Prize 2020 will open this June, and for those on the fence, Jennifer herself admitted it took some persuasion from friends and family to enter; ‘I never apply for prizes, I don’t do competitions… but my husband Jake and daughter Hannah said come on you’ve got to do it… so I did it and I’m very glad. I’m still amazed that I won.’

If you’ve created a unique piece of work in the last five years that falls within an area of applied arts then this could be the prize for you.

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