Pratima Kramer: Ceramic Artist

Pratima Kramer is a ceramic artist based in Hertfordshire, UK. Her innovative style is gleamed from her cultural Indian heritage and experimental nature. Pratima originally trained as a scientist but her love of art has been lifelong. Her journey into ceramics began at various universities through their open study programmes and making art, primarily in mixed media.

Through her ongoing experimentation she has developed a personalised style of creating distinctive forms of composition, harmony and mood. The artefacts that frequently appear in her work are collected during her frequent travels throughout India, as she tries to encapsulate all aspects of the country including the magnificent sculptures, stunning textures, vibrant colours and vitality of the subjects.

In her article for Craft Says Something, Pratima talks candidly about her experience as an artist of ethnic minority.

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As an artist of ethnic minority I have had a variety of experiences within the art industry that have truly highlighted some deep rooted and widespread issues.

Almost anyone who knows me knows that I am incredibly proud of my Indian heritage. I consider what I create to be an emotional response to my culture and experiences growing up in such a vibrant country. I love having the ability to create little windows into that world and take such pleasure from seeing the joy in those who see my work.

Throughout my professional development, though I have achieved significant milestones in the field, I have experienced many rejections that I have felt were not necessarily a reflection of my work but it is unfortunately an all too familiar feeling. Rejection is sadly part of the package in the art industry and I would imagine almost all artists are aware of this. There can be many reasons for this but it boils down to the fact that art is always subjective. With that being said, it can be a difficult pill to swallow when you are repeatedly rejected by certain exhibitions or galleries and spend many sleepless night trying to figure out 'why' – especially when you have been recommended by other highly regarded artists or professionals within the industry. Sadly, in many of these scenarios I have dug a little deeper and found that not only are these places lacking in diversity but sometimes even completely devoid of ethnic diversity.

I realise I speak from a place of privilege now as I have worked tirelessly to push through the barriers and feel that I am more in a position to speak on this issue and for it to hopefully resonate with others. I still feel overwhelmed and humbled by the people who embrace and support my craft. I take my greatest pleasure from those who have an emotional connection with my work, even if they are from completely different backgrounds, which reflects the concept of universality that art should represent but unfortunately does not always.

When the realisation of discrimination first began to sink in, I felt almost in disbelief that this could be happening within the art world; a broad community built upon self expression and creativity. For me art has always represented the power of social change, celebrating diversity and difference - and yet these inequalities and barriers I came across illustrated the complete opposite. It is because of this that my experiences have sometimes been hard to process. There has certainly been a lot discussed and debated about the lack of representation of ethnic minorities in our society but I feel now that these things need to be put in place – starting from the top.

It should be the responsibility of those in higher positions to begin to deconstruct the imbedded discrimination and inequality. Art galleries and exhibition organisers need to start holding themselves accountable for the decisions they make and the opportunities they offer – of course not neglecting normal art critique. Allowing the space for equality to take place opens up industry to explore the issues surrounding the suppression of BAME communities and break down these barriers.

I believe exhibition opportunities are one the keys to making changes and spreading awareness of minorities in the craft sector. By giving a voice to people of ethnic minorities it provides fair opportunities for those that are often turned away for reasons other than the skill they put into their work. Social media is an incredibly powerful and influential tool in this world and I feel that those who are privileged to have a large following can and should use it to support others and spread awareness of these issues. These individuals or organisations can utilise their platforms lift up other artists from all walks of life and heritage rather than suppressing them. It is a highly competitive industry and I have been so fortunate to find certain groups that embody inclusivity and celebrate differences but it does sadden me a great deal that it is not shared universally. Art should never be devalued because of someones ethnicity, class or even gender. Rather art should reflect the society in which we live that is incredibly diverse in so many ways – by doing this we can all broaden our perspectives and create the diversity in the craft sector that is long overdue.

Pratima has been selected to take part in GNCCFonline Summer Edition 17-18 July 2021, our face to face fair Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair taking place 8-10 October at Manchester's Victoria Baths and GNCCFonline Christmas edition 20-21 November 2021. Below are some examples of her beautiful ceramic pieces. For further details about Pratima and her work, visit www.pratimakramer.co.uk

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