Magdalene Odundo is a Kenyan-born, studio potter who is Professor of Ceramics at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, Surrey.
She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2008 and awarded the African Art Recognition Award by Detroit Art Institute.
She has been invited by Ceramics Southern Africa to visit Cape Town during its ’Ceramics Month’ celebrations in November, as part of the 2014 World Design Capital Award year-long festivities.
As guest of honour and award-judge of the Corobrik National Ceramics Exhibition at The Great Cellar on Alphen Estate in Constantia she’ll open the day, as well as participate in a series of events planned by CSA around her visit and give full day’s workshop.
Receiving her early education in India and Kenya, she moved to England to continue her training in graphic art, visiting Nigeria and Kenya to study traditional hand-built pottery techniques and travelling to San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico to observe the making of blackware vessels.
With a BA from St. Joseph’s College of Art and Design, a masters degree at the Royal College of Art in London, she taught at the Commonwealth Institute in London from 1976 to 1979 and at the Royal College of Art in London from 1979 to 1982. She is a patron and trustee for the National Society for Education of Art & Design and lives and works in Surrey.
Odundo’s best-known ceramics are hand built, using a coiling technique. Each piece is burnished, covered with slip, and then burnished again. The pieces are fired in an oxidizing atmosphere, which turns them a red-orange. A second firing in an oxygen-poor atmosphere causes the clay to turn black – known as reduction-firing. Many of the vessels she creates are reminiscent of the human form, often following the curves of the spine, stomach, or hair. Her work may be found in museum collections worldwide.