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© Bouke de Vries
Tracing Venice

Bouke de Vries


London-based Dutch ceramicist Bouke De Vries mainly works with broken antique ceramics, repurposing them into contemporary sculptures. Bouke initially started in the fashion industry, but then he switched career path and went on to study ceramics conservation and restoration at West Dean College, UK. After over a decade of working as one of London’s leading ceramic restorers, Bouke began creating his own artworks, using fragments of broken ceramics, emphasising the beauty of imperfection. While working as a ceramic restorer, Bouke noticed how a tiny crack can render an exquisite ceramic piece practically worthless. In his work, Bouke reclaims the broken ceramics, repurposing them for a new life. Instead of reconstructing the ceramics, he deconstructs them; instead of hiding the evidence of their trauma, he emphasises it, finding beauty in the imperfection.


In many of his sculptures, Bouke pieces together the broken ceramics using the Japanese technique of kintsugi. Kintsugi (golden joinery) involves using gold lacquer to repair ceramics, making the "trauma" of an object an integral part of its history. Bouke has a similar philosophy; he believes that something damaged can still be beautiful. He uses his honed conservator’s skills to imbue the pieces with new values and move their stories forward.

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