Ladi Kwali

Ladi Kwali was probably the best known of the Abuja potters. Making pots was women's work in the Nigerian villages, and Ladi came to Abuja with a knowledge of traditional Nigerian pottery. The large pots used for water storage were made from spiralled coils of clay, beaten from the inside with an implement like a potter's rib or a spoon, and fired in the open air by covering them in dry vegetation and lighting it.

She did not at first take to the idea of using wheels and kilns and the other paraphernalia of the European potter, but proved to have a natural ability to throw. Cardew encouraged her to decorate her work, something she had not done before, and he even fired some of her traditional work in the Abuja kiln.

Ladi was later to become a very popular member of the touring lecture team; her easy nature and ability to communicate made her well liked and appreciated in Europe, Britain and America. She became Nigeria's best known potter and has been honoured in many ways; she was given a doctorate, the Abuja Pottery was renamed for her and the Abuja Sheraton Hotel is in Ladi Kwali Road.


Leauger elephant