Thu | Feb 20, 2020

Poetry carved in ceramics

Published:Sunday | December 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Soda kilns at David Pinto Pottery studio at Good Hope, Trelawny.
A ceramic jug created at David Pinto Pottery studio.
A beautiful earth-tone ceramic creation from David Pinto Pottery studio, Trelawny.
An interesting ceramic piece from David Pinto Pottery studio, Trelawny.

Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer

For more than 20 years, David Pinto, one of Jamaica's leading ceramic artists, has opened up his studio and gallery for the holidays, inviting friends, family and the public to view and purchase new work he has created over the year.

His recent exhibition featured a series of fresh collections of dinnerware with varied shapes and whimsical designs. Signature mugs were also on display, which came in every size, and a new series of small dishes, jugs, sugar bowls, and much more.

According to Pinto, the event was well received and other creative artists, including Lina Lee Burke, who designs wreaths and other holiday decorations made from seed pods, driftwood and other found objects, helped to enrich the presentation.


Tiffany Edwards, the artist behind, presented handmade bracelets and Kristi Stephenson's collection of handmade beads.

Other exhibitors included Marta Morris, who makes cards from recycled materials, Summer Eldimire and Anna Henriques' 'Galavant' line of jewellery and Ital Blends Jamaican goat's milk soaps and lotions, also exhibited their wares.

Lisa Binns, affectionately known as 'Stush in the Bush', lives on the Zionites farm in the hills of St Ann, from which she creates a line of delicious condiments that were also on display. Christine English also presented small jewels made from hot glass and dishes and exquisite jewellery made from fused shards.

Over the years, Pinto has created one-of-a-kind vessels and sculptures, producing a range of functional pottery for sale on location, at select stores, galleries, and at island hotels and villas.

"To be outstanding at anything, you have to be very focused and passionate about what you do. Most people who have created anything outstanding worked consistently day in and year out to be successful," Pinto said.

Part of the reason for his success, he said, came from juggling between a full-time job, working nights and weekends and anytime he was free outside of his job. "I had some money saved. So when I made the transition to working in ceramics full-time, I was able to manage financially for a few years. Basically, you have to refine your expertise before you can be in a position to live from it," Pinto said.

The master sculpture fuses Jamaican and international influences in each piece of work with ingenuity and class. Tableware, basins, soap dishes and teacups, among others, Pinto's collection of uniquely designed artwork is a timeless showpiece highlighting the individuality of each creation.

All his creations combine beauty with practicality, which he creates in his studio that sits by the Martha Brae River, surrounded by think stands of bamboo in the beautiful, lush hills of Trelawny.

The location offers a mental oasis and palette from which he draws inspiration. Partially restored 17th-century buildings house his studio, galleries and other buildings and dwellings make up the Good Hope Estate.

The facilities include five kilns - an anagama style wood kiln, cross-draft soda kiln, down draft gas reduction kiln and two electric kilns and an abundance of tables, wheels, air and space for creation.

The skill of moulding exquisite and sometimes provocative pieces from clay is something the Jamaica-born artist has nurtured and loved since he was a child. While at high school in England. Pinto fell in love with the feel, versatility and transformation of clay through fire.

His industrial design training at RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) and product design work in New York City after graduating, refined his capabilities on how to create cups and bowls and explore the sculptural potential of utilitarian objects.

Pinto also opens his doors to facilitate school visits as part of his workshop programme focused on influencing an appreciation of art, clay, and firing. He has also served on the board of the National Gallery of Jamaica, offered his expertise as a visiting examiner at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, and has had numerous exhibitions and taught ceramics internationally.

"Lots of people come to look at and visit the studio. We have international workshops with some of the leaders in the industry, and these are extraordinary tutors. We share ideas, engage and inspire others. There are a few locals, but the core of the participants are international," Pinto said.

His one-of-kind sculptures can be seen at his studio, in art galleries, and online at

Contributed photos