Being Messy Makes You a Better Person (and Artist), According to Freya Bramble-Carter

The British ceramicist deliberately keeps her work space messy.

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Sasha Hitchcock

In "60 Seconds With," Siweb editor Charles Curkin chats with creatives and industry leaders, getting the scoop on their life and work in one minute or less. In this installment, he chats with , London-based ceramicist and member of the Black Artists + Designers Guild, an organization featured in the April 2019 issue of ED. Because she lives and works in one of the biggest urban environments in the world, she finds inspiration for her wild and evocative volcanic-glaze objets d'art in the natural world. Bramble-Carter's one minute starts...now.


Some of your beautiful ceramic pieces look like they were just recovered from the R.M.S. Titanic. They seem to be growing barnacles or mold and visually ... it works. Do you have a name for that aesthetic?

The glaze is a special recipe called "volcanic", which is made with a concoction of different stones. It's imitating the earth's crust.

How do you get them to look that way?

It takes a lot of trial and error to get the color and bubbles right. Sometimes the texture will bubble out and it will engulf neighboring pots in the kiln.

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A piece from Freya Bramble-Carter’s Volcanic collection.
Courtesy of Freya Bramble-Carter

You're inspired by the natural world. Which bits in particular?
I'm really into rocks like granite that the glaze materials come from themselves. My studio is a complete mess and the one where I teach is completely spotless. I've learned that I'm more inspired when I have an interesting environment to look at. I'm right in the middle of London, so I look for things that take me back to nature.

You're a teacher as well?
Yes. I teach with my father, who is also a ceramicist.

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Detail from Freya Bramble-Carter’s Volcanic collection.
Courtesy of Freya Bramble-Carter

OK, so regarding that in the movie Ghost (1990), was Demi Moore doing it correctly before a shirtless Patrick Swayze came over and ruined her project?
You know I've never seen that. Everyone talks about it, so it's the last thing I want to look at.

Oh no!
It's just corny. You can show it to me, though! I won't mind.

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A trio of vases from Freya Bramble-Carter’s Volcanic collection.
Courtesy of Freya Bramble-Carter

You're a member of the Black Artists + Designers Guild, founded by another ceramicist Malene Barnett. She also designs beautiful rugs, among other things. Ever considered branching out?

My mother is a puppeteer and I used to make lots of puppets with her. Perhaps I'd do something artistic with puppets or ceramics with puppet elements—something theatrical like that. Art is all theater.

Does racial identity inform your work?
It's quite a heavy subject and I like to highlight the positive in the world. I see myself as a rainbow. I don't really see race on a daily basis. I used to and it used to confuse me about my identity. I've learned not to see it and be obsessed with it. As a creative, I try to be free of all these doubts.

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An urn from Freya Bramble-Carter’s Volcanic collection.
Courtesy of Freya Bramble-Carter


Do you wish to be cremated when the time comes? If so, will you make yourself an urn?

Yeah, why not? You can actually make a pot with the ashes, too. My dad has already made a big gravestone for himself. It's in the studio and looks like a big tongue. So we're already sorted there.

What color?
I'll let you know when the time comes.

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The tongue-like gravestone Freya Bramble-Carter’s made for himself.
Freya Bramble-Carter
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