Modern British Forms

Modern British Forms

The Record-Breaking Contemporary Studio Ceramics Market

Moving from strength to strength, the Contemporary Studio Ceramics market continues to see record breaking prices fall for both iconic and up-and-coming names in the genre. Head of Sale and Curator for our bi-annual Modern Made auction, Philip Smith is recognised as one of the leading auction specialists in the field in the UK. Here, Philip takes a look at the latest, exciting developments in the Studio Ceramic market...


In 2016, when the record for a piece by Lucie Rie was broken for the fourth time in just two years, international attention was drawn to this competitive, growing market. Year on year the popularity of the genre grows, with renown names seeing new record-breaking prices consistently being set.

Excitingly, this dynamic market has become an arena where women are now taking centre stage, with names such as Magdalene Odundo, Jennifer Lee and Ladi Kwali often achieving some of the highest results.


Lucie Rie
ILLUSTRATED (LEFT-RIGHT): LOT 236 | § DAME LUCIE RIE D.B.E. (BRITISH 1902-1995) | FOOTED BOWL, CIRCA 1980 | £30,000 - £50,000 + fees
LOT 237 | § DAME LUCIE RIE D.B.E. (BRITISH 1902-1995) | FOOTED BOWL, CIRCA 1980 | £20,000 - £30,000 + fees


View Lot 236 ⇒


View Lot 237 ⇒


Prices and competition for works by the doyenne of British Studio Ceramics Lucie Rie continue to grow. A new auction record was set in July 2020, only to be broken just nine months later in April 2021 when Rie’s manganese and white glaze bowl sold for £245,702.

Most recently, the London sale of a selection of pieces from New York art dealer Dr John P Driscoll’s exceptional collection of contemporary studio ceramics in November 2021 marked an exciting moment for the Studio Ceramic market. The sale grossed £6.5 million and set 28 world auction records, most notably Hans Coper’s Monumental Ovoid Pot which sold for a record £651,700.

Historically studio ceramics were often side-lined to fine art and sculpture. However, in the last eight years a shift has taken place both within and outside the ceramics community, fed in part by The Great British Pottery Throw Down, the 2015 opening of the Centre for Ceramic Art in York and the rise in popularity in pottery courses, which has broadened studio ceramics appeal to a much wider and more international audience.



LOT 360 | § GRAYSON PERRY C.B.E., R.A. (BRITISH 1960-) | FOOTED PLATTER | £8,000 - £12,000 + fees


View Lot 360 ⇒



The seismic shift in appreciation of this medium is also because it is ever more relevant to today’s audience. The writer and ceramicist Julian Stair ascribed the genres contemporary appeal to the fact that “it is a multivalent art form, immersed in a social context, and engaging both the body and the mind,” something that is particularly chiming with a new socially liberal, younger and media-saavy audience.

Offering the very best in Modern British & Post-War Art, Design and Studio Ceramics, Lyon & Turnbull’s Modern Made auctions champion both the most prestigious names as well as relative newcomers in Contemporary Studio Ceramics. Modern Made’s curated approach celebrates art and design across multiple disciplines to reflect the dynamism of the art world in the Post-War Years.


LOT 241 | § JOHN WARD (BRITISH 1938-) | VESSEL | £2,000 - £3,000 + fees
LOT 241 | § JOHN WARD (BRITISH 1938-) | VESSEL | £2,000 - £3,000 + fees


View Lot 241 ⇒


The forthcoming April 2022 edition of Modern Made is led by two fine examples by Lucie Rie, a footed bowl decorated with a pink glaze, turquoise banding estimated at £30,000 - 50,000, while a jade green glaze example with manganese rim is estimated at £20,000 - £30,000. These are offered alongside works by other modern masters of the school including Grayson Perry, Edmund De Waal, John Ward and Sara Flynn.

It is an exciting time to be in the contemporary ceramic market - money, the media and social attributes have all come together to create a vibrant artistic space for the appreciation of the field. The current vibrancy of contemporary ceramics is one of the success stories of 21st Century arts.



Auction Information


MODERN MADE: Modern & Post-War Art, Design & Studio Ceramics

Friday 29th April 2022 10:00

Live Online | Mall Galleries, London


View the auction catalogue ⇒



Studio & Contemporary Ceramics


Contemporary and Studio Pottery is one of the most exciting fields in the current auction market with record prices and an overflow of innovative young artists in this sector. You will find many examples of works at our studio pottery auctions.  

Lyon & Turnbull hold two ceramics and pottery auctions a year specialising in contemporary and studio ceramics, offering a broad range of ceramic artists and work, including Bernard Leach and the Anglo-Oriental Movement; Lucie Rie, Hans Coper and the Modernist Movement and work by leading international contemporary ceramic artists such as Jennifer Lee, Magdalene Odundo and Edmund De Waal.


Learn More ⇒





Philip Smith



0207 930 9115




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