Tamsin van Essen’s work explores notions of beauty and perfection, looking towards the past traditions of art and ceramics for inspiration, reinterpreting historic themes to draw contemporary parallels. She is interested in ideas of impermanence and aesthetic ambiguity, particularly the fragile boundary between attraction and repulsion, and how these seemingly contradictory sensations can exist simultaneously. Referencing the gothic sensibilities of many of the Old Masters, she is fascinated by ornamentation and richness. As a ceramicist, van Essen feels that she is part of a continuum of makers, drawing on a strong heritage of skills and techniques. She makes creative interventions into traditional industrial and craft production processes, exploiting the qualities of different clays to alter the visual and tactual qualities of a piece.
Van Essen studied at the Royal College of Art, from which she received her MA Ceramics and Glass, following a BA (hons) in Ceramic Design from Central Saint Martins and a BA (hons) in Physics and Philosophy from Balliol College, Oxford University. Her exhibitions include: Beauty, SCIN Gallery, London, Subversive Design, Brighton Museum, British Ceramics Biennial Award Exhibition, Stoke-on-Trent, Contemporary Design at Number 10 10 Downing Street, London and Masterpiece London, all 2013, Smashing Benyamini Ceramics Centre, Tel Aviv, When I Woke Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre, Wales, Peaux d’Ames Next Level Galerie, Paris and Collect London, all 2012. Her work is held in public collections including: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris, Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Montreal, Wellcome Collection, London and Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum, London.