Without doubt, master potters Ben White and Enmanuel Maldonado form one of the most exciting and fascinating partnerships in international studio ceramics. Working from a legendary design book, Ben and Enma have created a stunning body of work which stretches from small geometric vessels to huge thrown and sculptural vessels and wall hanging pieces, and everything inbetween including lamp bases and candle shades. Ben White explains the design element – ‘although our design book is important, essentially new designs and vessels are created freeform straight from the imagination. Our work is allover the place, moving across several major design disciplines which include geometric, abstract nature and Pre-Colombian design, with each vessel based on at least one of these elements’.

Meeting for the first time in 2002 in the funky artisan pueblo of San Juan de Oriente in SouthWest Nicaragua, the supersonic ceramic duo developed a friendship and working relationship over the following years, with Ben serving as an apprentice upto 2008. In 2004/5, they started building their new studio in San Juan de Oriente, which features a spacious workshop, a large gallery area and an outer area for a large traditional wood firing kiln and the storage of raw materials. 2005 to 2008 were incredibly busy years, combining tours in the USA and UK with lengthy spells in the studio, where their work reached new levels of complexity and perfection.

In terms of technique and process, their work is created using the legendary ‘Estilo de San Juan de Oriente’ (‘S.J.D.O. style’ in plain English!), which is one of the lengthiest, arduos and complex ceramic processes in global studio ceramics (you can learn more about this throughout the web-site). Even one stage in this process can take years to master, for example the decorative process which is an artform in itself – this involves drawing the design by hand onto a slip surface, geometry, hand painting, texturing, incision/scraffito, burnishing etc, a process which takes a minimum of three years to master. This mix of ancient and modern ceramic techniques and processes is then fused with a unique blend of natural ingredients, oxides and colours, some of which are obtained nationally, others internationally. Ben White explains the importance of colour and burnishing in their work – ‘this is one thing that really makes our work stand out, people love our colours; and quite frankly both of us find the majority of Western ceramics dull and lifeless in terms of colour’. Never short on confidence, Ben and Enma genuinely believe their new work is amongst the best ceramic work being created in the world at present.

After an exhausting seven years, Ben and Enma decided not to tour in 2011, instead decamping in the hills of the Pueblos Blancos to create new work for a comprehensive 2012 UK, European and American tour. This body of work, which will total around 400 vessels, will include experimenting with 2D wall hanging work and combining huge mangrove tree root systems with ceramic sculptures. Although currently busy in the studio, you can visit either of our galleries in the UK and Nicaragua, and continue to place commissions as normal. Click on the links to the right to learn more about us and our work. If you have any queries, please use our standard contact details :

 

 

 

 

 

Ben White & Enmanuel Maldonado – UK
Owl Cottage
Eastbridge Road
Burmarsh
Kent
TN29 0HY

tel. (0044) (0)1303 870871
ben white : ben@clayboutique.co.uk; ngowhitelodge@hotmail.com
e. maldonado : enmanuelsjdo@yahoo.com

Ben White & Enmanuel Maldonado – Nicaragua
Segunda Entrada
1 cuadra al oeste, 150 meters sur
Calle Mameg
San Juan de Oriente
Masaya

tel. (00505) 8469 0213; 8884 1753
ben white : ben@clayboutique.co.uk; ngowhitelodge@hotmail.com
e. maldonado : enmanuelsjdo@yahoo.com