Every once in awhile a work of art just catches your eye with its simplicity and subtle beauty. That’s precisely how we felt the first time we saw the work of Linda Bloomfield, a London based ceramic artist who has been working with pottery since 1973. You can see her masterful touch and experience from Japan and around the world in her beautiful hand-thrown porcelain pieces. They are defined by their simple yet captivating shapes and the play between the satin matt glazes and coloured interiors. Each one of her tableware pieces is like a little work of art, but … oh joy … you get to hold it and savour the beauty in your own hands!
But what is a cake stand without a cake on it? Well, to enjoy Linda’s beautiful creations along with a cup of tea and slice of cake, stop by the new Door 12 Café Bar at the Royal Albert Hall in South Kensington! We were excited to hear about the opening of a new café at the Royal Albert Hall as it’s one of the most remarkable music venues in London and is always a favourite with guests staying in one of our South Kensington vacation rentals.
The new Door 12 Café Bar opened at the end of May and is part of a grand restoration of the south entrance to the Royal Albert Hall, now officially called the The Zvi and Ofra Meitar Porch and Foyer. As is only fitting for this Grade I listed historic building, the Café Bar features many artistic touches. Just take a look at the lovely setting – and the beautiful ceramics!
Linda Bloomfield was commissioned to create over 300 pieces for the Café Bar at the Royal Albert Hall, including a mix of hand thrown and manufactured plates, bowls, cappuccino cups and saucers, lovely teapots, mugs, milk jugs, sugar bowls and cake stands. All of these pieces were created in her London studio, too. On the walls you’ll find more artwork, including a painting called An Instrumental by Hugo Dalton – a very fitting musical tribute to the Royal Albert Hall setting!
We are thrilled here at London Perfect that Linda Bloomfield was able to take time away from the potter’s wheel to share about the inspiration for her work, just what it was like making all those pieces for the Royal Albert Hall Café Bar and a few of her favourite things to do in London. Thank you so much, Linda!
You created over 300 pieces for the Royal Albert Hall Café in your London studio. Can you share with us about that massive creative process?
It has taken me about three months to make the order. I have a pottery studio in my garden and work there every day, throwing pots on the wheel. The hardest part of the order was throwing 70 cups and saucers, which needed a lot of turning to form the foot rings underneath. The pots take about a week to dry, then I biscuit fire them so they are ready for glazing. I make all the glazes myself and pour colour into the inside of the pots, then dip the outside into a satin matt white glaze. I load them into the kiln for a second time and fire to 1260 degrees Centigrade, which takes about 14 hours to heat up and 16 hours to cool down.
I am also designing a manufactured range of pottery and have been making plaster moulds of some of my pieces so that they can be manufactured in larger quantities. I have been honing the shapes after several years throwing them on the wheel.
There’s a simplicity and serenity about your work. Where do you draw inspiration for your ceramic designs?
I love mid century modern design from the 1950s, particularly the biomorphic shapes made by designers such as Eva Zeisel. I also love visiting the British Museum and seeing their collection of Chinese ceramics. Tactile surface are important to me, and I like the feel of marble and the texture of shells, rough on the outside and pearly on the inside.
Besides the Royal Albert Hall Café, where can visitors to London see more of your work?
My local gallery, Frivoli in Devonshire Road, Chiswick or Maud and Mabel in The Antique Emporium, Hampstead. I am hoping they will be available in a certain prestigious shop in central London soon.
What’s your favourite way to spend a Saturday in London?
I love going to the shops in Chiswick. We have a traditional butcher with sawdust on the floor, and a fishmonger and delicatessen, Mortimer and Bennett, who sell a very good range of cheeses. I also like to walk or cycle down to the river Thames and sometimes visit our local brewery, Fullers, who make London Pride beer right next to the river. If there is a good exhibition on, we will sometimes go to the Royal Academy on Piccadilly, or the Tate Modern. I also love visiting the ceramics galleries in the Victoria and Albert museum for inspiration.
What are the top 3 places that a visitor to London simply MUST go?
1. Go up to the top of the Shard to see the view and visit Borough Market when you come down.
2. The British Museum and the Contemporary Ceramics shop opposite.
3. Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery and Covent Garden
Photo credits: All photos by Henry Bloomfield