The ceramics of Hylton Nel

Hylton Nel is one of South Africa’s well-known ceramic artists or “artist-potter” as he describes himself. He was born in Zambia and went to school in Kimberly and later studied ceramics in Antwerp, Belgium. I’ve always admired the wonderful humour in his work, and to be quite honest, I’m not sure why I’m only featuring him now.

“Hylton Nel is a master of combining whimsy with satire and making pointed, albeit often humorous, references to his personal concerns as well as those of the world at large. In his work Nel seduces the eye with his sinuous line drawing and lush glazes, yet the mind is often taken aback when it comprehends the intensity of his imagery and inscriptions.

Nel describes himself as an ‘artist-potter’ which aptly refers to his interest in painted imagery as well as form and function. Over the past four decades he has developed a style of work that is rich in references to the decorative arts and literary and art historical sources. His plates, bowls, vases, plaques and figurative pieces are idiosyncratically decorated with witty – and sometimes poignant – line drawings and script.” –

Images via


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