Exploring Strangeness in Nature

Tessa Eastman is an award winning British ceramic artist with over twenty years’ experience of working with clay. She lives and works in London UK. Tessa graduated from the University of Westminster in 2006 with a BA Honours in Ceramics, and in 2015 gained a MA in Ceramics & Glass from one of the world’s most reputable design schools, The Royal College of Art.

She worked in London and France from 2002 to 2007 as an assistant to renowned ceramist Kate Malone who featured in the Great British Pottery Throw Down BBC TV series. Tessa has been teaching since 2005 and currently runs ceramic courses at the Kiln Rooms, open access ceramics studios providing professional development and at the Heatherley School of Art, one of London’s oldest Independent art colleges where all tutors are practicing artists.

Her dynamic work sits at the vanguard of the contemporary ceramic art scene and she has been able to impress many with her originality, skill and above all with a daring approach to the art form. Tessa’s meticulously hand built cloud bundles and complex crystal formations have found a serious following among art collectors, gallerists and ceramiphiles alike and her sculptures have been commissioned and presented by the financial firms Abacus in 2003, Gresham Private Equity in 2006 and Clifford Chance in 2019.

Tessa was shortlisted for the Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize in 2017 and won the Craft Emergency Award in 2016, with a solo exhibition at Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth in 2018. She has been exhibiting in the UK and abroad since 2005 and notable solo shows include ‘Cloudspotting’ with Jason Jacques Gallery in New York and ‘Le désordre en délice de l’imagination, the disorder in delight of the imagination’ with Galerie de l’Ancienne Poste in France. Her work regularly features at Collect: The International Art Fair for Modern Craft and Design with the Cynthia Corbett Gallery. Tessa’s work has been selected for Biennials including the British Ceramics Biennial at the Old Spode Factory Stoke-on-Trent in 2015 and she received an honorable mention at the Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale Korea in 2017.

CERAMIC rEVIEW Masterclass

Tessa set up her first studio in 2005 in West London in the Old Gas Works. In 2015 she joined Manifold, an East London collective founded in 2010 by a group of emerging artists and designers from The Royal College of Art. In 2017 she was granted a space at Cockpit Arts, the UK’s only business incubator for craftspeople.

Tessa’s work appears curiously alive with movement. Building her shapes by hand, she draws inspiration from organic forms as seen through a microscope. The artist explores the strangeness of growth of natural phenomena in which systems flow and digress from an intended pattern, subsequently translating her findings into colourful glazed ceramics.

Grouping work creates a dialogue between pieces where voluminous cloud-like shapes exploring the theme of space pushing outwards are juxtaposed with mesh structures revealing the internal. The tension between internal and external relates to receptacles where positive and negative space are equally valued, and also to the body where the void permits life. While creating she looks for differences such as soft and hard, order and chaos, geometry and irregularity. Tessa says: “I aim to fix ungraspable states such as fleeting clouds, which represent both the ideal and the perishable, doom and fantasy”. It is through sensitivity to form and glaze that her pieces become animated and much time is invested in glaze research and testing. Tessa says: “Colour is inspiring to me and it can help create distinction between form and shape. Matt and shiny, coarse and smooth and hot and cool coloured glazes are used to offer depth of character to a work”.

 Young Masters Prize Artists In Conversation For London Craft Week