In HL's April 2016 issue (on shelves from 21 March), we dedicate a whole page to raku, an ancient Japanese style of earthenware originally associated with tea drinking ceremonies. As a result of being fired and cooled rapidly, the pottery takes on a very raw, crackled aesthetic that's a large part of its intrigue.
Locally, acclaimed artist Lauren Kaplan is one of the most well-known raku creators. The cubes seen above are part of her large installation titled Thinking Outside of the Box. The showcase includes 40 raku boxes of various sizes and designs, each boasting its own unique character.
They represent a type of this pottery style called 'naked raku' - Lauren's favourite method of firing that leaves smoked pieces unglazed - and were created at Art in the Forest (AITF), a centre of ceramic excellence at Cape Town's Constantia Nek that focuses on mentoring artists and also organises outreach programmes and free art classes for underprivileged children from different schools. Lauren says of this studio: 'AITF is my happy place and I love creating beautiful work in this space'.
This ingenious artist’s career in ceramics started 30 years ago. She currently lives between Cape Town and Connecticut, USA and belongs to the Silvermine Guild Arts Centre. Locally, some of her work is available at AITF, with her Abstraction bowls being her hottest sellers (she's just launched a range of Abstraction mugs too).
As for internationally, her spring 2016 Raku Range, which is inspired by Africa, is currently displayed at New York's luxury Fifth Avenue department store Bergdorf Goodman, which is home to some of the world's most prestigious brands.
For more information, and to see more of Lauren's incredible work, visit laurenkaplanceramics.com.