Norwegian ceramicist Marthe Elise Stramrud creates highly imaginative sculptures that ranges from home goods and small sculptures to massive public space sculptures. We instantly fell for her play with colours and shapes. Her work is best described by herself: 

I am born and raised in Kristiansand in the south of Norway in 1984. After a pretty standard Norwegian small-town upbringing the art world was presented to me by chance around the age of 20 and I was quickly sucked in. In 2011 I graduated with a bachelor’s in fine arts from Bergen National Academy of the Arts (with a special focus on photography). Very early in my life I thought I would end up being a lawyer or a social worker and in 2012 I even studied architecture for a year thinking I wanted to become one. But I stayed in the arts and in 2018 I graduated with a master’s in fine art from Oslo National Academy of the Arts (where I for two years got the pleasure of having my hands stuck in clay).

Marthe Elise Stramrud portrait

I work with the sculptural and painterly in photography, sculpture and installation – often with an exploration of display and use. I aim for an unapologetic nearness in my approach to making ceramic. A direct and joyful presence, as when working a dough. Knowing things through doing. Meeting the material, listening in, attending to it. It’s a way of dealing with time. Not running after it. But being in it. With it.

In my ceramic works I look for a vivacious lightness of colors when I make often naïve, almost unfinished clay shapes. Each object is a playful staging of a narrative, a place for a new trial, an impromptu sketch, a surface for immediacy and humour.


Throughout history, clay has been associated with the human urge to create, and the material has been used for making practical as well as artistic objects. Knowing that clay is really just fine-grained, rock or earth material blended with water formed into any number of shapes is quite extraordinary. To have that soft lump of clay in my hand, knowing everything is possible, that dust can reach its destiny of becoming a teacup or a tree-sized sculpture, ceramics presented me with an excellent material to continue the exploration of form, perception and fantasy.

Emerging from this ongoing practice is also the central question of colour and its perception as a result of light. Using a white base of porcelain slip, on which the strokes of water-drenched raw pigment become almost airy, watercolour-like in texture, I defy the often-dark undertone of the fired clay. After withstanding the heat of firing, the cellular transformation that happens is pure magic, and it makes glazing feel like a mini adventure (one with many forks in the road and a multitude of final products). Working with silica that then becomes glass, flux which melts and binds the coating and imagining the colour coming from the refractory elements - it makes the ceramic artist something of a chemist and a cook and a painter all at once."

We've selected Marthe Elise Stramrud's Two Flower Vase to our collection. It's a series of handmade vases that encourage Japanese ikebana culture, meaning seeing the simple beauty of a few flowers. Each vase is a large, colourful arch that holds a flower from each side. Discover all the vases by Marthe Elise Stramrud