Q&A with Ceramicist Joanna Ling

We are very excited to launch an exclusive collaboration with ceramicist Joanna Ling. We have all been fans of Joanna’s delicate, contemporary ceramics for a long time so were thrilled to be able to work on this collection together. Joanna has created a range of finely crafted candlesticks and bowls exclusively for us to sit alongside our summer collection. Read on for our Q&A with Joanna on her practise, and processes.

Birdie Fortescue Blog | Joanna Ling Portrait

Tell us a bit about about the collection you have created for us

The collection includes porcelain bowls, vases and candlesticks. All are handmade and each piece is unique. It has been fantastic collaborating so closely on these with you, as it is a real combination of my signature pieces but with new colours and exclusive designs to complement the rest of your Spring/Summer range.
Birdie Fortescue Blog | Joanna Ling Candlesticks
A combination of Moss-rimmed and Moss Bud Vases | from £30.00 each
Birdie Fortescue Blog | Joanna Ling Bowl
Large Moss Bowl III | £180


What led you to becoming a ceramicist?

I worked at Sotheby’s for many years and was lucky to be surrounded by beautiful artworks but yearned to be creative in my own right. I have always loved ceramics and am an avid collector, so it made sense to try my hand at making my own. I enrolled in an evening class while I was still at Sotheby’s and I was immediately hooked.
Birdie Fortescue Blog | Joanna Ling Studio

What inspires you to create your pieces?

I was brought up in a tiny village in Hampshire, surrounded by beautiful countryside, and I now live a few minutes from Richmond Park, walking there most days, so the natural world is a huge inspiration for my pieces - be it in the organic forms they take or the decorative elements that are incorporated in them. Also, having run the Cecil Beaton Archive at Sotheby’s for over 20 years, I cannot help but be influenced by his wonderful sense of style and designer’s eye. In fact, earlier this year I designed and made a Cecil Beaton inspired collection for the National Portrait Gallery shop, to accompany their fabulous Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things show.

Birdie Fortescue Blog | Joanna Ling Studio

What’s most important to you in your work?

In a world of mass production it is very important to me that everything I design is handmade and unique. When someone buys one of my pieces, they know that they will own a one-off. A lot of my work is bespoke and I particularly enjoy making something that will be specific to a certain person or the place where it will be displayed.
Birdie Fortescue | Joanna Ling Candlesticks
Cornflower Candlesticks | from £60.00 each


You have a very distinctive style - how long did it take to develop your unique aesthetic?

I worked with porcelain from the start, making slab bowls and pinch pots, later learning to throw on the wheel. Although the most difficult clay to work with, I love its delicacy and translucency. A few months after taking up ceramics, I forced myself to submit a bowl for the Sotheby’s Staff Exhibition, held in their Bond Street galleries. To my great delight the bowl sold and I was commissioned to make some further similar pieces. This encouraged me to continue making in this style, but you never stop learning with clay and so the development continues!

Birdie Fortescue Blog | Joanna Ling Bowl

Small Moss Bowl III | £60.00


Are there any other designers, artists or makers who you find inspiring?

So many! Well I have mentioned Cecil Beaton… Art - Giorgio Morandi’s muted still lives and the Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi’s interior scenes. I also love the wallpapers and fabrics of Lewis & Wood and Juliet Travers and  I am a great fan of Luke Hope’s deceptively simple wooden pieces.

Birdie Fortescue Blog | Luke Hope 

As an interiors brand we are always interested in how people decorate their homes - can you tell us a little about your own home style?

I think eclectic would be how I would describe it. I aim for vaguely minimalist - I love the Japanese aesthetic - but end up getting a bit more maximalist than I intended, as my house is full of art and books that I have collected over the years. I definitely err on the side of simplicity, and love experimenting with the occasional strong colour. I am passionate about my garden which, although small, is very pretty and now it contains my studio I love it even more! 

Birdie Fortescue Blog | Joanna Ling Studio

We should probably mention this extraordinary situation we all find ourselves in at the moment - has lockdown changed the way you work or the way you view your work?

My business has not been impacted as much as many others, as I have the luxury of working from home anyway, but lockdown has really reinforced how important it is to me to have a creative outlet.  I am extremely lucky to have a home studio and, having more time to experiment, has given me the opportunity to test new designs and glazes. The situation the world is in now has confirmed my strong belief that one should live for the moment. Last year was a big year for me - not only investing in my business but also, having been freed from decades of office life, I took the opportunity to travel more (including finally visiting Japan) and generally take on new challenges. In retrospect, I am so glad I did this.

 Birdie Fortescue Blog | Joanna Ling Studio

Finally could we ask you to ‘guest edit’ our collection and pick your three favourite pieces?

That is so hard because I love everything! But… if I had to choose, then it would be  a painting by Sonia Barton, a limited edition Moroccan kilim pouff and one of the beautiful Kantha or Suzani throws.


Birdie Fortescue Blog | Sonia Barton

Sonia Barton | Peonies, Early Morning | £950


Birdie Fortescue Blog | Kilim Pouff

Limited Edition Kilim Pouffe | £450


Birdie Fortescue Blog | Kantha Throw

Limited Edition Kantha Throw 0/2 | £145



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