School of Art

Contact Details

School of Art
Aberystwyth University
Buarth Mawr
SY23 1NG

Tel: +44 (0)1970 622460

Fax: +44 (0)1970 622461


Display artist/maker:

Michael OBrien

Born: 1930, Uganda

Ceramicist. Born in Uganda, OBrien’s family returned to the UK when he was four, but he always felt he had an affinity for Africa. He attended Westminster School, Camberwell Art College and undertook teacher training at the London Institute.

For six years OBrien taught in Leicestershire but took the opportunity of a sabbatical to learn pottery, first at Farnham Art College with Henry Hammon and Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, and then he persuaded Michael Cardew to take him on at Abuja in Nigeria. As Cardew was soon to retire, OBrien was deemed an appropriate successor to take on the running of Abuja Pottery.

OBrien ran the pottery from 1966-72, creating a more streamlined production, building a more efficient kiln, and eventually redesigning the buildings. Abuja Pottery was popular with expatriates, but little work was sold to local Nigerians. OBrien split his time between Nigeria and the UK, and for periods in the 1970s worked at Cardew’s Wenford Bridge Pottery, where he was always known as ‘Seamus’.

In 1979, OBrien returned to teach pottery at a Nigerian university hoping to train young potters to work without the need to rely on imported materials. In the 1990s OBrien set up a pottery with Danlami Aliyu at Minna, Nigeria, but was for a time expelled following a disagreement with one of the Nigerian backers.

Although he has a family home near Epsom, OBrien spent much of his time in Nigeria and has been involved in a number of pottery enterprises in that country. OBrien was close to Michael Cardew’s values and ways of working but brought to pottery production more vigorous control of working systems and technical aspects.

Objects in the collections associated with this artist/maker

C1853 Ceramics

[Deep bowl] C1840 Ceramics

[Lidded casserole] C1839 Ceramics

[Plate] C1843 Ceramics

[Plate] C1844 Ceramics

[Plate] C1845 Ceramics

[Plate] C1846 Ceramics

[Plate] C1847 Ceramics

[Plate] C1848 Ceramics

[Plate] C1849 Ceramics

[Plate] C1850 Ceramics

[Plate] C1851 Ceramics

[Plate] C1852 Ceramics

[Plate] C1854 Ceramics

[Plate] C1855 Ceramics

[Plate] C1856 Ceramics

[Plate] C1857 Ceramics

[Plate] C1858 Ceramics

[Plate] C1859 Ceramics

[Souffle dish] C1841 Ceramics

[Souffle dish] C1842 Ceramics