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Magdalene Odundo in Cambridge

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Magdalene Odundo DBE is one of the greatest ceramic artists working today. Her distinctive, burnished vessels are informed by a range of art and craft traditions from around the world.

This display marks 50 years since Odundo moved from Kenya to Cambridge to take an Art Foundation Course at Cambridge School of Art. Intending to study graphic design, Odundo soon switched her focus to ceramics, inspired by Zimbabwean-born pottery teacher, Zoë Ellison. Ellison encouraged Odundo in her first attempts at making and introduced her to a number of contemporary British studio potters.

Immersed in Cambridge, Odundo visited The Fitzwilliam Museum and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology where she was captivated by the versatility of clay and hugely influenced by the variety of ceramics from around the world on display.

These visits to Cambridge museums combined with Ellison’s teaching underpinned Odundo’s decision to embark on a career in ceramics and inspired her subsequent trips to train with women potters in Nigeria and Kenya.

In this display, Odundo brings together a selection of the global ceramics from Cambridge collections that were key to this formative period and examples of her own unmistakable work.

Image: Pot, burnished earthenware. Made by Magdalene Odundo, c. 1983 © Magdalene Odundo. Photograph © The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

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