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The Pedestal Bespoke welcomes Margaret O’Rorke Lighting


A selection of unique porcelain and bone china lights designed and produced by Margaret O’Rorke is now available online at The Pedestal Bespoke.

The Pedestal took the opportunity to talk with Margaret about the qualities of porcelain, her tutor Lucie Rie and the importance of freedom for the artist.

Image on previous page: Rauno Träskelin

Margaret O’Rorke treats porcelain as a sculptural medium. About 40 years ago Margaret held up a porcelain bowl to the sun to admire its translucency and so the thought, ‘why don’t I use an electric light inside?’ came to mind. Since then, and as seen in the remarkable range of her output, Margaret has treated porcelain as a translucent sculptural medium. In their design and scale her works challenge our perception of this familiar material, and her focus on the relationship between porcelain and light, both natural and electric, has been constantly and consistently explored in everything she creates, from lights for the table to wall mounted light sculptures and breath taking floor to ceiling installations.

At the astonishingly young age of 16, Margaret O’Rorke embarked on a degree in Fine Arts at Chelsea Art School. Until then she had not attended art classes nor had she worked in paint, however she produced a painting, ‘cottage in a field’, which secured her place on the four year course, along with her fresh and spontaneous approach to the subject.  Margaret identifies her keen observation of both created and natural worlds as her guide, rather than a more formal and conventional academic approach to understanding art. With the stance of observer comes freedom from structure, and the possibility to explore materials – what they can do and how they work.

Margaret’s introduction to porcelain came through her subsequent study of ceramics at Camberwell School of Art – its wonderfully soft feel and plasticity proving irresistible and rewarding. Lucie Rie was teaching at Camberwell  at this time and Margaret recalls the first few classes with Rie remaining silent, only finally offering up ‘terrible’ when commenting on the students’ early work. Over the year Margaret focused on the development of her throwing skills and she soon bonded with Rie and her rigorous approach. The door to Rie’s expertise and advice remained open after her graduation from Camberwell, but it was not until the early 1980s that Margaret was able to show her old tutor one of her illuminated vessels. Margaret asked her what she thought about using a light bulb inside; Rie’s response was ‘Margaret, why not?’ – a phrase which has resonated over the years, capturing in its perfect simplicity the bold attitude to experimentation and expression in porcelain which Margaret has pursued ever since.

Margaret travels extensively with her exhibitions, as well as giving workshops and artist’s residencies.  Her  latest exhibition, Light | Porcelain, at the Kwum Museum, Fiskars, Finland , is open until late Summer 2020. Waves, the porcelain wall sculpture from the Bespoke online selection, came about through her residency at The Bornholm Ceramic and Glass Centre, Denmark, some years ago. Ribbons of porcelain are thrown on the wheel then blow-torched to firm the clay, and re-assembled on a single flat circular band. Waves has since been created in a number of related forms and has been exhibited in the UK and overseas.  The form brings to mind the movement of water; the Bornholm Centre is after all on an island in the Baltic Sea. Typically, when asked about her design inspiration, Margaret steers away from direct visual triggers and instead names essential personal forces such as intuition, instinct and emotion, in conjunction with her adored porcelain and the forms that can grow on the wheel.

As to her latest project, Margaret is currently working in collaboration with skilled craftsmen at a Stoke-on-Trent ceramics firm to produce a unique range of lights, developed initially on her wheel and then, through the creation of a mould then manufactured, whilst still retaining their handmade character. Over the centuries, candles have brought light to our interiors, their glow creating a relaxed atmosphere; Margaret aims to create a peaceful ambiance utilising the latest technology together with the magic of porcelain and bone china.

Peruse and purchase from Margaret’s lighting selection here

Contact us for more information and to enquire about Margaret O’Rorke’s lighting:

Showing right: Light | Porcelain, Kwum Museum, Fiskars, Finland | image by Rauno Träskelin

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Margaret at work in her Oxford studio

Waves: a translucent porcelain lit wall sculpture | image by Vítová Alena

Margaret working on the flat thrown band to which ribbons of porcelain will be joined to create Waves

Conus & Trochus: ingenious table lamps in white porcelain powered by re-chargeable batteries | image by Michael Harvey

Maldive: translucent white bone china pendant lights

Suspended Pods: five different pairs of cast translucent white porcelain pods | image by Rauno Träskelin