Carolinda Tolstoy Signature ImagesImagesImagesImages

The Craftsman

Carolinda Tolstoy Ceramics
Text by Ernst J. Grube
Published by Art Books International
ISBN 1874044562

She looks just like her work, flamboyant and flowing, rich purples, pinks, blues and golds, traditional yet unique. Indeed, she says herself; “I am the pots and the pots are me – one and the same - I don’t make pots, they make themselves through me – they are a natural extension of myself as I am of them – there is only one way the cycle can stop.”This superb collection of images of work by Countess Carolinda Tolstoy is a comprehensive record of her work and the influences which have shaped it during the 30 years of her professional life.

Her wealth of experience of different countries and their traditions is entirely reflected in her work. Descended from an old Middle Eastern family, linked to one of the great families of Russia,Carolinda Tolstoy has studied in Paris and at the Chelsea Pottery. She has travelled and visited ceramic centres in Spain, Morocco, Iran, Russia, and the Middle East. The source of her inspiration derives from many contexts in Islamic art, she borrows decorative elements and ideas from painting, manuscript-illumination, ceramics and textiles whilst adapting characters and motifs from Persian miniatures to her own vases and bowls.

Above all, Carolinda’s fascination is with the floral patterns seen on Middle Eastern pottery and with the use of gold. The recurrence of patterned gold decoration, set against calm blues and pinks, is a persistent theme in her ceramics.

To quote Ernst Grube from the book, “Countess Tolstoy is undoubtedly the major contemporary representative of a considerable English ‘Orientalist’ tradition. Her work has justly been recognised as perpetuating the fascination of the Western world with Safavid art, with an indebtedness to a truly original interpretation of the Ottoman tradition.”