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Mudbelly: ‘The Ceramic Gut of’ Artist Phoebe Collings-James

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Mudbelly: ‘The Ceramic Gut of’ Artist Phoebe Collings-James

February 26, 2021

The hyphen in Phoebe Collings-James is a clue. The Jamaican-British sculptor-painter-DJ-model-muse simply cannot be pigeon-holed into any one identity. She’s worn many creative hats (though one could do away with all the hyphens by simply calling her an artist), and recently she’s added another discipline to her resume: ceramics.

Collings-James was first introduced to the clay arts in 2014 as an artist-in-residence in Italy. She continued playing with the medium while living in Brooklyn, eventually exhibiting her first functional pieces at Picture Room, one of our favorite NYC stores. She named her practice “Mudbelly“—calling it her “ceramic gut”—an apt, visceral description that reflects the refined yet raw, restrained yet wild quality of her pieces. (Mudbelly has since grown to include a shop and studio in London, where she currently resides, that offers free ceramics courses, taught by Black ceramicists, for Black people.)

Below, a sampling of her arresting work, available for purchase at her Mudbelly store and at the Picture Room.

Photography via Mudbelly, unless otherwise noted.

Mudbelly The Ceramic Gut of Artist Phoebe CollingsJames From Collings James&#8\2\17; caption for this image on @mudbellyceramics: &#8\2\20;When there is time, I like to take some pieces home with me, to live with for a while before they find new homes. I get a sense of what they&#8\2\17;re all about, where my intentions end and their life begins. Here&#8\2\17;s one on my kitchen table in the morning light.&#8\2\2\1;
Above: From Collings-James’ caption for this image on @mudbellyceramics: “When there is time, I like to take some pieces home with me, to live with for a while before they find new homes. I get a sense of what they’re all about, where my intentions end and their life begins. Here’s one on my kitchen table in the morning light.”
Mudbelly The Ceramic Gut of Artist Phoebe CollingsJames Her slipware pots (priced from £70 to £360) use either sgraffito and/or slip painting techniques. Sgraffito, Italian for &#8\2\20;scratch,&#8\2\2\1; involves covering the piece with layers of slip or glaze, then scratching off a layer (or layers) to draw a design. Image by her dad, photographer Jimmy James, via @mudbellyceramics.
Above: Her slipware pots (priced from £70 to £360) use either sgraffito and/or slip painting techniques. Sgraffito, Italian for “scratch,” involves covering the piece with layers of slip or glaze, then scratching off a layer (or layers) to draw a design. Image by her dad, photographer Jimmy James, via @mudbellyceramics.
Mudbelly The Ceramic Gut of Artist Phoebe CollingsJames The Picture Room currently has several of Collings James&#8\2\17; pieces for sale. These Candle Holders are \$4\2 each. Photograph via the Picture Room.
Above: The Picture Room currently has several of Collings-James’ pieces for sale. These Candle Holders are $42 each. Photograph via the Picture Room.
mudbelly ceramics phoebe collings james eat me whole plates
Above: Collings-James released new work this month, but much of it has been sold already, including this set of four Eat Me Whole Plates for £300.

For more ceramicists we admire, see:

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