Karen Bunting

1949 – 2024

Karen Bunting began making pots in the early 70s. She completed a degree in chemistry at University College London, then worked as a computer programmer before she discovered ceramics and quickly realised that ceramics was her real vocation. As a largely self-taught ceramicist, Karen worked briefly for a production potter in Yorkshire, then moved back to London and in 1977, set up her first pottery in Hackney, East London.

Amongst a number of inspirational sources, she described herself as having two parents in ceramics – Lucie Rie and Bernard Leach, one from the Continental Bauhaus tradition and the other from the Anglo-Oriental tradition. These two distinct strands both spoke to her and provided the two springs from which her work emerged.

Karen made reduction fired stoneware pots intended for use in the home; each piece initially thrown or hand-built, then individually worked and decorated. Stripes, spots, and cross-hatching map out the surface and reveal aspects of the form. The reduction firing produces muted colours, which are often marked out with darker lines of patterning. Drawn to a particular quality of stillness and sobriety that pots can have, Karen aimed to make quiet and contemplative pieces, revealing their qualities to the viewer over time and through use and handling.

After becoming a selected member of the Craft Potters Association (CPA), Karen was elected to join its governing council in 2009 and only a year later became its chair, serving from 2010 to 2014. The organisation awarded Karen Honorary Fellowship in 2020.

As well as her involvement with the CPA, Karen was fully immersed in the wider ceramic community being on the organising committee for Ceramics in the City ceramic fair as well as being a trustee of Clay College, a training school in Stoke-on-Trent dedicated to educating new generations of potters.

Karen is survived by her husband Peter, daughter Lola, and son Johnny.

You can read more about Karen in her own words in this Ceramic Review article written in 2011.  https://reader.exacteditions.com/issues/66230/page/16?term=