Tag Archives: ceramics

Seville | Triana Ceramics Museum

ceramics museum (1)award-winning interior design by AF6 Arquitectos

The Triana district of Seville has long been famous, among other reasons, as an important pottery and ceramics producing area (the Plaza España was designed partly as a showcase for Triana ceramics). However, although you can still find pottery shops, and even a few small scale workshops, in the Alfarería (a place where pottery is made or sold) neighbourhood behind the market, the industry is sadly not what it once was, and it’s perhaps a sign of the times that one of its most famous landmarks has recently opened as a museum.

The Ceramica Santa Ana, on the corner of San Jorge and Callao streets, has one of the most famous frontages in Seville (decoration and signage in ceramic tile, of course), and still functions as a shop and showroom, and the Centro Ceramica de Triana (the museum) can be found in the building next door, which used to be the Santa Ana pottery factory. It’s not much to look at from outside, but as soon as you walk past the reception area you realise that this is because everything faces inwards into the main courtyard – the principal production area of the factory. The exhibition areas are in the buildings overlooking the courtyard, which have a facing of randomly sized pottery tubes called a celosia, which provides shade for the interiors while still allowing light to enter. The installations, designed by Miguel Hernández Valencia and Esther López Martin of architects AF6, are a blend of traditional and modern, partly inspired by the objects that were left lying around when the factory closed.

ceramics museum (6)mural made from baked clay pieces found in the factory

Not surprisingly, given the availability of suitable clays in the immediate vicinity, the history of pottery making here goes back a long way, at least as far as the Romans. Indeed, two of Seville’s patron Saints, Justa and Rufina, martyred here in the 3rd century, are traditionally said to have been potters. Under the Moors new techniques were introduced, and the craft of making decorated tiles in particular reached its peak. Later Italian and Flemish styles flourished, but there was a gradual decline until the 19th century, when an English potter and trader named Charles Pickman opened a modern factory in the Cartuja. Other entrepreneurs followed suite, and the revived industry reached a new peak in the early 20th century. Failure to modernise, however, led to another decline and many of the local manufacturers went out of business in the 1960s and 1970s.

ceramics museum (2)restored 18th century hand-painted tile panel

The core of the new museum is still the old kilns, which are of various ages stretching back to at least the 16th century, the ponds for storing the wet clay, and mills and basins for pigments. Upstairs there is a temporary exhibition about the restoration work carried out by the museum, and two permanent exhibitions, one detailing the history of local pottery making and techniques, with collections of locally made pieces, and the other about the neighbourhood of Triana, its traditions, and its fierce sense of local pride. These make it an excellent area to rent an apartment and experience the real character of a local neighbourhood. Below you can watch a video showing the restauration of the museum.

Seville | The Pottery and Ceramics of Isabel Parente

Pottery is an essential architectural landmark in Seville, and you can find exquisite decoration everywhere, in a huge variety of different colours and styles. It can be like walking through an open-air museum. Unfortunately, because of industrialisation the techniques of handmaking pottery and ceramics were gradually being lost in the second half of the twentieth century, but more recently interest in the art has been reviving.

One of the artists at the forefront of this revival is Isabel Parente, who together with Salud Jimenez has been running a craft pottery workshop in Seville for the last 16 years. “Our handmade pottery was born from a love of the art, and from a concern not to lose the Sevillano ceramic tradition,” she says, “and we want to offer customers things they can’t normally find in the shops.” These include the bold, linear geometrical designs of the Islamic tradition, as well as the gentler curving shapes of the Italian renaissance and baroque.

In the video you can see them demonstrate some of the traditional techniques (for English subtitles use the captions icon), such as cuerda seca (dry rope), low relief, and stencilling and handpainting of pottery.

If you would like to buy one of these handcrafted pieces you can find their workshop at

626 963 086
Calle Doña Maria Coronel 21
41003 Sevilla

Seville | Tiles and Ceramics of Seville

When you think of Seville, what things do you think of as being the most typical or emblematic of the city? The Giralda Tower and Cathedral? Bullfighting? Flamenco? Blue skies and orange trees? Well, all those and more, probably, but there is something else that you will see almost everywhere here, from the most humble places to the grandest, and which add another dimension to the visual richness of the city.

detail at Plaza de España

detail at Plaza de España

I’m talking about azulejos, the painted and glazed tiles that seem to decorate almost every surface, from the undersides of the balconies (always look up!) to the grand expanse of the Plaza España. The centre of the ceramics industry has always been in the neighbourhood of Triana, in the area behind the market. Pottery has been made there using local clay from the river at least since Roman times, and Seville’s patron saints, Justina and Rufina were potters, their status perhaps reflecting the importance of the industry. But it was in Moorish times that the arts of painting and glazing the tiles really got going. Prohibited from depicting living things, it was they who created the abstract geometric designs that are still common today.

Tiles are also prominent in church shrines, and in signs and advertising in markets and shops, but although you can find tile work everywhere, from apartment lobbies to bars and around doors and windows, some of the finest examples in public spaces and monuments. The walls of the Alcázar are profusely decorated with tiles from the early Christian era that were still made using the techniques developed by the Moors. Even more spectacular are the tiles of the Plaza España, which showcase the designs and techniques of the early 20th century ceramics industry, particularly in the alcoves that depict historic moments from each of Spain’s provinces.

ceramics trianaceramics shop in Triana

Although you can still find little ceramics shops in Triana, and a few artisans working using the traditional methods – though the old wood-fired brick kilns have been replaced by electric kilns – the industry has declined, and ceramics are no longer produced here on a large commercial scale.

Nevertheless, this part of Triana, where the entrance to the old Ceramica Santa Ana is an important landmark, is still worth a visit. The market gives a good idea of how tiles were used for signs, and in the remaining small workshops you can find some pretty pieces that are great for souvenirs.

In commemoration of this history, a new museum, the Centro Ceramico, is soon to be opened next door to the Santa Ana, where you will be able to see some of the old kilns, and collections of both traditional and modern tiles.