Friday, April 12, 2024
ArtArtistSarah Dunstan

Sarah Dunstan

Sarah Dunstan Blue Plate

St Ives’ potter Sarah Dunstan has achieved international acclaim for her unique, slab-built work. In 2012 Sarah was elected Fellow of the Craft Potters Association.

Meet St Ives’ celebrated potter, Sarah Dunstan, whose exceptional slab-built creations have garnered international acclaim. Notably, in 2012, Sarah’s talent was honoured when she was elected Fellow of the Craft Potters Association, a recognition of her significant contribution to contemporary ceramics.

Following her graduation with a degree in ceramics from Cardiff, Sarah returned to her native Cornwall, where she founded her first pottery in 1993. Ever since, she has remained dedicated to her craft, becoming a professional potter of repute. In 2002, she found her artistic home at Gaolyard Studios, established by renowned Leach potter John Bedding. Within this vibrant creative hub, Sarah provides established potters with individual studio spaces, fostering a community of artistic excellence.

Sarah’s distinctive ceramics are a testament to her creativity. Marked by rich velvety colours and intricate hand-cut porcelain overlays, her work is instantly recognisable. This unique style reflects her deep passion for the art form and showcases her exceptional skill.

Having acquired several pieces from Sarah over the years, we have had the pleasure of witnessing her artistry firsthand. The images to the left showcase some of the treasures we own, each piece bearing the mark of Sarah’s exceptional skill and artistic vision. Among our recent acquisitions, the vibrant bright blue plates stand out, a delightful addition to our collection, acquired during the lockdown period. Sarah’s ongoing work continues to inspire and captivate, reminding us of the enduring allure of handmade artistry.

Sarah Dunstan Plate

Sarah’s Work explained

Nestled in the enchanting town of St Ives, Sarah breathes life into her ceramic creations, drawing from her personal visual scrapbook. To begin with, Sarah actively collects images, capturing the subtle nuances of her surroundings. These range from the elegant shape of a hidden doorway railing in St Ives to the charming design of an antique glass bottle.

Moreover, Sarah finds profound inspiration in the natural world that envelops her. Within her creations, delicate lines and intricate floral details unfurl, beautifully mirroring the serenity of her natural surroundings.

“In my work,” Sarah reveals, “I delve into the realms of half-forgotten memories and enduring childhood images. Whether it’s the vintage wallpaper that graced my family home, the captivating narrative of my Mother’s Willow Pattern plates, or even the familiar contour of an opened sardine tin, I draw from these elements.” With a keen eye, she masterfully weaves these influences into her creations, intertwining gentle nostalgia with the lasting, archival permanence of the ceramic medium.

Sarah’s artwork stands as a testament to her ability to meld the past and the present, infusing her creations with a timeless charm that resonates deeply. Through her artistry, she not only captures the essence of her surroundings but also invites viewers into a world where memories and creativity intertwine seamlessly. As a result, her work offers a captivating glimpse into the intricate tapestry of her inspirations, a visual symphony where the past dances gracefully with the present.

Ceramics Technique

Sarah Dunstan Sardine Can

Using flat sheets of stoneware clay as a canvas, Sarah embarks on her creative journey. To begin with, she delicately paints the surface with coloured slips, breathing life into the clay. Then, intricate ‘fretwork’ patterns come into play, each one individually carved from a thin layer of porcelain. Remarkably, no stencils are used. Instead, every design is meticulously hand-drawn and then skillfully cut from the porcelain sheet. Following this intricate process, these delicate creations are transferred to the prepared slab, a unique method perfected by Sarah over many years.

The decorated sheets, now brimming with intricate designs, are carefully assembled, forming the final piece. Notably, raw seams are deliberately left at the joins, enhancing the organic feel of the artwork. The surface undergoes meticulous treatment, culminating in the creation of a distinctive patina that adds depth and character to Sarah’s ceramics. After this meticulous preparation, Sarah’s creations undergo a bisque-firing process. Here, a variety of glazes and beautifully coloured slips are applied, giving her work a contemporary, striking, and instantly recognisable appearance.

Among our prized possessions is ‘The Sardine Can,’ a piece we acquired from Gaolyard Studios in St Ives, Cornwall. Additionally, we have more of Sarah’s work somewhere; they might be tucked away in storage. We enjoy swapping these pieces around, allowing each one to have its moment to shine. This rotation keeps the collection dynamic and ensures that every piece continues to enchant us with its unique beauty.


Sarah Dunstan Vase

St Ives Ceramics

The Leach Pottery

Cornwall Contemporary

The Summerhouse Gallery

Cornwall Crafts Association

The Stratford Gallery

Contemporary Ceramics

 Newlyn Art Gallery

Visit Sarah Dunstan’s Website

Location of Gaolyard Studios

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