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Magdalene Odundo

Magdalene Odundo (b.1950 in Nairobi, Kenya) is one of the worlds most esteemed ceramic artists. Odundo moved to the UK in 1971 where she then studied at Farnham College and the Royal College of Art.

After choosing ceramics as her preferred medium, Odundo returned to Kenya and Nigeria to study traditional techniques and has subsequently travelled the world exploring vernacular ceramic traditions; her own distinctive work embodies this research. As an African-British artist, Odundo’s interweaving of references to historical and contemporary making practices from different cultures, including her use of traditional techniques, has led her to an exploration of her diasporic identity and the charged role that objects play in intercultural relationships.

While the relationship to the human body is the most fundamental reference in her work, Odundo’s forms are informed by a diverse range of influences: British studio pottery, traditional ceremonial vessels from Kenya and Nigeria, wood carving from the Congo, ancient ceramics from Cyprus, Japan and Peru, modernist sculpture, and Elizabethan costume, among many others.

In 2008 she was awarded an OBE for services to Art, and she became the Chancellor of the University for the Creative Arts in June 2018.

“Museums have played a very big part in my education and my thinking. History has also played an important role in my artistic search, enabling me to discover my cultural heritage.” – Magdalene Odundo in 2019 speaking to Apollo Magazine