Today in Ceramic Art History: Ladi Kwali

By SP Staff
Aug 12, 2019

20 Naira, Ladi Kwali

Because the Nigerian potter Ladi Kwali’s birth day is not known, and even her birth year is inconclusive (the V&A says 1930, Wikipedia says 1925), today we remember her on the anniversary of her death, August 12, 1984.

As some of our readers may know, Kwali worked with Michael Cardew in the fifties and sixties at at the pottery he set up in Abuja, Nigeria, which was renamed Ladi Kwali Pottery in the early eighties and is no longer in operation. She became a decorated figure in Nigeria, even gracing the back of the 20 Naira bill.

Known internationally, too, she was an inspiration to many, such as Magdalene Odundo, who spent time in Abuja in the early seventies. Winnie Owens-Hart said in her 1997 Studio Potter article, “Inside the Pink House,” (Vol. 26, No. 1) that when Kwali came to the U.S. for the World Crafts Council conference, she “followed her around like a little puppy.”

In addition to the links above, here are a few more resources for learning more about this great potter:

Google Images Search

buzznigeria.com

Pitt Rivers Museum video footage of Kwali

The Last Sane Man, a biography of Michael Cardew by Tonya Harrod

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