In November 2020, studio ceramics specialist Maak (20% buyer’s premium) achieved a world record for a living ceramic artist with the sale of the 1988 Angled Mixed Coloured Piece by the coveted Kenyan-born potter Dame Magdalene Odundo (b.1950). Selling at £200,000, it was pictured on the front cover of ATG No 2470.
Odundo again featured in the firm’s spring auction in London on May 13, represented by two untitled works from 1991.
Entered for sale by an international collector who had bought them in 1992 was a rich orange burnished and oxidised terracotta vase with three combed pinches to each shoulder (estimate £10,000-15,000) and a burnished and carbonised terracotta form not unlike the record breaker (estimate £30,000-50,000).
Both had small condition issues (one a restored rim chip, the other some scratches) but sold at £80,000 and £105,000 respectively.
Buoyed by the success of recent exhibitions at Hepworth Wakefield and Salon 94 in New York, Odundo’s work enjoys the sort of financial rewards shared only by pots by Hans Coper and Lucie Rie.
In contrast, pieces by Joanna Constantinidis (1927-2000), for nearly 40 years a lecturer in ceramics at Chelmsford Technical College and School of Art, have tended to occupy the second tier of the market.
Most of her pared-down thrown forms, often enhanced by lustre glazes, sell in the high hundreds rather than the thousands.
However, this Maak sale included one of her best-known pieces, the 18in (46cm) high stoneware Body Pot that has a deep rust brown glaze with lustrous sheen.
It dates from c.1975 – well before Constantinidis took early retirement in order to devote herself to producing ceramics full-time – and is the type of prime period work for which she was awarded the Medal of Honour at the international exhibition of ceramic art in Faenza in 1978.
With provenance to a private collection in London (it had been acquired from Oxford Ceramics Gallery), it was estimated at £700- 900 but received a remarkable 50 bids before selling for an artist’s record of £15,000.