From exquisite display pieces to functional household objects, Joanna Bird’s Winter exhibition presents a treasure trove of ceramic and glass work
Twice a year, glass and ceramics consultant and dealer Joanna Bird converts most of the downstairs rooms of her elegant Grove Park house into a beautiful gallery space. Step over the threshold and you enter a world of glorious sculptural pieces, cutting-edge dichroic glass and stylish kitchen and tableware in a wide variety of forms and glazes.
‘At my pre-Christmas show, which is called The Joy of Things to Come and runs until 15 December, I will be showcasing and selling the work of 14 ceramic and glass artists,’ explains Joanna. ’Some are young emerging talents who have caught my eye – original ideas always excite me – and others are more well-known.’
Joanna herself is a former potter. Having become disenchanted with her Sociology degree at Goldsmiths – ‘so many statistics weren’t for me’ – she began to spend more and more time in the college pottery studio. ‘The other students welcomed me and I was left to my own devices. I started throwing and was mesmerised by the process,’ she recalls. ‘We would fire the kiln and sell our pots at Greenwich Market.’
Subsequently Joanna learned her craft at the pottery of Michael Cardew, one of Britain’s most renowned pioneer potters. ‘I spent three years there. There was nothing formal about Michael’s teaching – it wasn’t a course as such – but it was a fantastic experience. Afterwards, I opened my own pottery in Devon and worked with clay for the best part of a decade.’
Joanna’s life changed with marriage to her late husband, Bunny, a Fine Art dealer in Bond Street, and starting a family. ‘It was impossible to combine pottery in Devon with married life in London,’ she recalls. ‘So I thought, the one thing that I could do was to encourage and promote others; I knew how hard it was for potters and glass artists to find an audience.’
Having set up Joanna Bird Contemporary Collections in 1994, Joanna quickly built a reputation as a ceramics and glass expert, representing a broad stable of artists and showing their work at galleries and art fairs worldwide as well as at her own exhibitions. She has facilitated the acquisition of many works for museums and collectors which, over the years, have risen significantly in value.
Between curating exhibitions, Joanna and her team offer a consultancy service for clients who want to source or commission, value or sell work and, since 2013, she has overseen her own Foundation. This charity supports educational projects, films and events with makers in the decorative arts.
‘When I choose work for my home shows, I tend to go for balanced forms and focus on integrity in material, the making process and decoration,’ she says. ‘There will be something to appeal to all tastes and I always love chatting about the artists. Whether visitors are dropping in to browse and enjoy the exhibition or are looking for gifts for themselves, family or friends, everyone is welcome!’
The Joy of Things to Come is open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm until 15 December at Joanna’s Chiswick home (or by appointment at other times). She will also be exhibiting at COLLECT, the international fair for contemporary craft and design, at Somerset House (28 February-3 March 2024).
Joanna Bird Contemporary Collections
19 Grove Park Terrace
Chiswick, W4 3QE
020 8995 9960
Main photograph: https://www.instagram.com/annabelmoellerphotography