Magdalene Odundo Solo – The Elisabeth Zuckerman memorial exhibition
3 October – 28 November 2009
Magdalene showed her hand built and coiled ceramics in 1985, very early in her career, at the Bluecoat Display Centre and is now an internationally renowned artist who last year won the African Art Recognition Award. In this major new exhibition Magdalene will show her renowned ceramics alongside new forms in metal seen for the first time in exhibition in the UK.
Magdalene Odundo (b. 1950) grew up in Kenya and moved to England in 1971, she decided to explore the possibilities of clay first at an evening class and then full-time at West Surrey College of Art and Design in Farnham. She returned to her native Africa to study the traditions of hand-building and firing, she also traveled to New Mexico to observe the women of San Ildefonso making their distinctive blackware vessels. She then returned to London to complete a Masters degree at the Royal College of Art from 1979-1982.
Odundo’s simple assured forms are hand built, primarily using a coiling technique. Several pieces are produced simultaneously, often taking days or even weeks to complete, and when leather-hard, each is laboriously burnished, covered with slip, and burnished again. When dry the pots are fired in a gas kiln, first in an oxidizing atmosphere which turns them a naturally bright red-orange, and often a second time, enclosed in a special container filled with woodchip sand shavings where the reduced atmosphere causes the clay to chemically alter and turn black.
Her pots are visually akin to pottery produced in Africa but her work also has affinities with early Cypriot pots of the bronze age. Magdalene’s search for the perfect form is her ideal: a form with ’perfect harmony, perfect symmetry and perfect balance.’
Rightly Magdalene sees her work as ‘part and parcel of the art world’. It has been shown in highly prestigious museums and galleries throughout America and Europe and her work is held in the public collections of many major museums across the USA and Europe.
Magdalene will deliver the Gardner-Medwin lecture during the exhibition run, date to be confirmed.