Lana Trzebinski’s ceramics for de Pury sale are mediations on healing

Lana Trzebinski on creating her ‘Fractal Series’ of ceramic art in her Nairobi studio, for a selling exhibition with de Pury

Lana Trzebinski pink ceramic
(Image credit: Lana Trzebinski Fractal Series for de Pury)

All artists can recall the first time they encountered their preferred medium and for ceramic artist Lana Trzebinski, who is showing her first selling exhibition with online auctioneer de Pury, the moment played out under Kenyan skies: ‘As a child, I remember when it rained, playing with mud in the garden and making little mini mud huts, we weren’t sculpting vases or vessels, but my contact with clay and mud goes further back than I recognise. Playing with my father, there wasn’t a moment when we weren’t doing some kind of activity in nature. It was either in the ocean or in the bush,’ she reminisces.

green ceramic by Lana Trzebinski

(Image credit: Lana Trzebinski Fractal Series for de Pury)

Trzebinski’s Fractal Series comprises sculptural pieces that she has created in her studio in Nairobi. ‘The clay that I work with comes from Nyeri, an area with very rich farming land,’ she explains. Forming the pieces by hand is both a liberating and experimental experience. ‘When I am sculpting, I enter a meditative flow. It’s my dream state. It allows me to disconnect from everyday life and brings me back to earth.’ 

The distinctive patterns and wide array of glazes that Trzebinski uses are also reflective of how her practice has allowed her to articulate personal loss and embark upon an artistic journey of healing. ‘I experiment a lot and have about 550 glazes, each with their unique recipe,’ she notes. Of her vessels, she shares, ‘the outsides are always beautiful colours and the insides are hollow. It represents the emptiness and the pain, with the outside a result of one coming out the other side.’

ridged green ceramic

(Image credit: Lana Trzebinski Fractal Series for de Pury)

For Simon de Pury, Trzebinski was a natural addition to the early and mid-career artists he has championed on the de Pury platform. ‘I have always had a particular love for ceramics. When my colleague Karlina Nathan, who spent the Covid lockdown in Lamu, Kenya, sent me images, I instantly fell in love with Lana’s work. Last year I went to visit her in her studio in Nairobi and saw first hand the result of her extraordinary research into glazes, which are more compelling than any photograph could convey.’  

For Trzebinski, the visit brought an unparalleled career opportunity and a daunting challenge: ‘He looked at my work and suggested I scale up. It meant buying a bigger kiln and then really learning; understanding how my glazes behave on bigger pieces, and trusting the process,’ which initially included cracked pieces and glazes melting in the kiln. However, the suggestion has left Trzebinski a convert to creating larger works. ‘I am now convinced about scale, and I think my pieces are going to just get bigger and bigger,’ she says, laughing.

textured ceramic artwork

(Image credit: Lana Trzebinski Fractal Series for de Pury)

The sale also marks the continuation of de Pury being at the forefront of widening participation in the auction market for digital natives and younger collectors, a credo Simon de Pury continues to champion. ‘In the old days window-shopping while strolling through cities and devouring as many magazines as possible allowed you to come across the work of hitherto little-known artists. Today, when the vast majority of us are staring at our iPhones for hours, it is digital initiatives that achieve the same purpose,’ he observes. 

The series, two years in the making, has left Trzebinski with a desire to pause and reflect before embarking on her next project. However, when posed with the question of how she hopes her new collectors will receive her work, she hopes ‘it will transport them to a moment that they had a connection with the natural world, or just makes them feel happy, inspired, and excited. And maybe even wanting to try and do some sculpting themselves.’ Whilst their works may never be as magnificent as Trzebinski’s, her series is a poignant reminder that the curative power of art remains undeniable.

‘de PURY Presents Lana Trzebinski’, an online exhibition showcasing unseen sculptural works by the emerging Kenyan artist, runs until 27 December 2023, with all works for sale.


(Image credit: Lana Trzebinski Fractal Series for de Pury)

Mazzi Odu is a Ugandan-British writer, editor and cultural consultant based in Lagos, Nigeria. Her work focuses on jewellery, design, fashion and art. An alumna of the London School of Economics and Political Science, she has profiled a cross section of leading design talents and creative voices, with a special emphasis on those from the Global South and its Diaspora communities.