Ladi Kwali (Nigerian, circa 1925-1984) Pot 31 x 30 x 30cm (12 3/16 x 11 13/16 x 11 13/16in).
Lot 3
Ladi Kwali
(Nigerian, circa 1925-1984)
Pot 31 x 30 x 30cm (12 3/16 x 11 13/16 x 11 13/16in).
Sold for £ 3,500 (US$ 4,603) inc. premium

Africa Now

28 Feb 2018, 17:00 GMT

London, New Bond Street

Lot Details
Ladi Kwali (Nigerian, circa 1925-1984) Pot 31 x 30 x 30cm (12 3/16 x 11 13/16 x 11 13/16in).
Ladi Kwali (Nigerian, circa 1925-1984)
Pot
stamped 'LK' (to lower rim)
stoneware
31 x 30 x 30cm (12 3/16 x 11 13/16 x 11 13/16in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Acquired by a private collector in Ibadan in 1969.
    By direct descent to the present owner.


    Born in the ancient potting region of Gwari, Ladi Kwali was trained in the traditional methods of production, building up her vessels in coils before firing them in the open air in a bonfire of dry vegetation.

    She achieved international recognition in 1954 after she was invited to join the famous British ceramicist, Michael Cardew, when he opened a studio in northern Nigeria.

    Cardew had moved to Africa to take up a post at Achimota College, an experimental art school in Ghana. In 1951, he was invited to lead a commercial ceramic initiative in Abuja. It was here that he first encountered Ladi Kwali. He was struck by the artistry and dynamism of her pottery. Watching Kwali work was "one of the world's performative wonders", in the words of design historian Tanya Harrod:

    "She starts by punching into a solid cylinder of clay, pulling up the sides, adding rough coils of clay, walking round and round the pot, scraping and thinning the pot's wall while the whole thing sways outrageously. The shape is then bellied out and an elegant rim created by manipulating a piece of cloth or leather. The end result has perfect symmetry and classical rightness. Ladi Kwali was a past mistress of this and she was also peculiarly imaginative about decorating, always ready to try new ideas. To awed outsiders she appeared to go into a trance-like state as she incised outlines and cross-hatching with a knife-like tool, working her way round the pot without any preliminary setting out."

    Cardew was so taken with Ladi Kwali's ceramics that he took her on an extensive tour of the United States in 1971-2.

    The present lot is characteristic of the pottery Kwali created in Cardew's studio. It fuses tradition Gwari hand-coiling techniques with the glazing and firing processes of European pottery. The geometric and stylized decoration of these vessels is also a result this hybrid; traditional animal motifs are depicted in sgraffitoed slip.

    Bibliography
    C. Benfey, 'Michael Cardew: The Potter as Great Modern Artist', New Republic, (3 June, 2013).
Activities
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Contacts
  1. Eliza Sawyer
    Auction administration - African, Modern and Contemporary Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 5881
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