TRULY ADVENTUROUS couple, Ben and Nadrali started working together in the UK, in Somerset, taking advice from Ben’s mother who was an established ceramic artist. They travelled widely and to help them fund their journeys they made ceramics that utilised the local environment and available materials.
Eventually they came to the Algarve and decided to settle here. “As soon as the Algarve sun lit up our eyes, we fell in love,” says Ben.
At first they specialised in jewellery but then – and over several years –developed their skills to embrace, as well as intricate beadwork and body ornaments, sculptural homeware and decorative wall art. Today their enchanting glazes on elegant forms create stunning effects.
Hand-shaped with skill, no two items are ever alike nor can they be replicated; like snowfl akes, every one of their creations is unique, an individual masterpiece with its own distinct personality.
Working under the name Ben and Nadrali the couple make their own glazes using cobalt and copper oxides to create distinctive shades of ocean blue and tranquil tones of green and turquoise. Different blends of local clays also impact on the colours and provide a variety of sensual textures.
To add interest to the ceramic surface the clay will sometimes be mixed with ash made from almond, vine and olive wood or roughsurfaced grog. Any pattern or design that might be needed is dextrously applied and the object is then fi red in an outdoor woodburning kiln. If necessary it is sanded to give the fi nished surface a natural organic look.
These are pieces once seen, immediately wanted, so that the duo work closely with Galeria Côrte-Real comes as excellent news to collectors. The latest collection of ceramics on show at the Paderne gallery refl ects an extra dimension, with splashes of gold applied to the twists and turns of new forms.
Words: CAROLYN KAIN