“The painted surface and the irregular form” – Alison Britton at the V&A

The medium of ceramics is having a moment just now. But, as the subject of this retrospective at the V&A, leading ceramic artist Alison Britton has previously noted, ceramics are always there, it’s just that the interest in them culturally seems to go in peaks and troughs. Interest is surely at a peak for the artist herself whose expressive hand-built pots seem to give sculpture and painting equal prominence and have earned her international recognition. The V&A’s Content and Form retrospective features over 60 pieces from the breadth of her career over the last 40 years and hopes to highlight the evolution of the artist’s practice over this period. It includes her most recent pieces – made in 2015 – being shown publicly for the first time and to our untrained eye shows all of the abstract works to be timelessly modern.

The artist came to prominence in the 1970s when she was part of a loosely formed group of radical female potters, all of whom had trained at the Royal College of Art (where she is now a senior lecturer) and whose work challenged established traditions – Alison is widely credited with reshaping the crafts industry in the 20th century and is also a respected writer on her subject.

On her task to put pieces from the different eras of her work together she told the V&A that “the improvised relationship between the painted surface and the irregular form is what continues to engage me.”

Outpour 2012| ALison Britton | The Chromologist

Green and Brown Pot 1996 | Alsion Britton | The Chromologist

Jar with Handles 1998 | Alison Britton | The Chromologist

Traipse 2014 | Alison Britton | The Chromologist

Yellow Pot 1990 | Alison Britton | The Chromologist


Upland 2015 | Alison Britton | The Chromologist

Outcrop by Alison Britton, 2015 (c) Alison Britton & Philip Sayer

See Content & Form in gallery 146 at the V&A until 4 September 2016.

Jill Macnair


Jill Macnair has worked as an interiors journalist for 13 years, contributing to titles including Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. She set up cult interiors blog My Friend’s House in 2009 with Ros Anderson and continues to run the forum daily.

The Chromologist 2019 | Farrow & Ball

The Chromologist