Nigerian ceramic 'casserole'

Contributed by Anna Craven

Nigerian ceramic 'casserole'

Ladi Kwali was a Nigerian Gwari potter (died 1983), taught traditional potting skills as a young girl by an aunt, who then trained and worked at the Abuja Pottery Centre established in 1950 by English potter Michael Cardew. She also worked with Michael O'Brien who took over the Centre. Here she learnt European techniques of forming (wheel-throwing) and glazing pots, but retained her traditional Gwari style of decoration. This 'casserole' now in my collection is a good example of a combination of European glazed ceramic form, but with Ladi Kwali's traditional designs. Her unique and distinctive pieces are now found worldwide: she is famous for combining two cultural skills and styles about which she lectured both inside and outside Nigeria. Traditional potting skills survive throughout Africa, but not all potters have made the 'cross-over' between techniques, and instead continue to meet the demand for utility pots from villagers who for the most part buy cheaply in local markets. On the other hand, there are African artist-potters discovered by a different clientele who appreciate pots for their uniqueness rather than their utility. Ladi Kwali was a pioneer in this.

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Old Abuja, Nigeria (Gwari)


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