Sutton Hoo helmet, £5.00
Magdalene Odundo, ceramic vessel
Magdalene Odundo (born 1950) grew up in Kenya but settled in Britain in 1971, training as a graphic designer before turning to ceramics. Her pieces are not made using a wheel, but by hand, primarily using a coiling technique. They are left unglazed and are burnished laboriously by hand. The potters of the Ganda royal court in Uganda use similar techniques to make vessels known as ensumbi.
This method of working places Odundo within the tradition of potting in sub-Saharan Africa, as does her perception of pots as vehicles for thinking about the human body. Odundo's ceramics nonetheless have a universal appeal which transcends any attempt to impose a single ethnic or geographical identity. The artistic influences she acknowledges are diverse and wide ranging, from Cycladic figurines to the work of modern sculptors such as Arp and Brancusi.
J. Mack (ed.), Africa: arts and cultures (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)