Art & Design

Martha Freud Is The Artist To Have Fun With Right Now

British-born artist Martha Freud's ceramic creations bare messages left to your interpretation

Londoner Martha Freud, a descendant of the late Sigmund Freud, founded her eponymous studio in 2008 after a career in product design, most notably at Issa. A standout exhibition last year, entitled "Mixed Messages," brought her work back into the spotlight, as Martha showcased a series of ceramics brandishing slogans that hit the mark. The fragile beauty of Martha's work combined with her clever, playful quips provides a fresh perspective.

Your path into art and design.

Art was always my passion, it’s how I process my experiences, and I have never been short of ideas. I felt that studying design would educate my understanding of materials and construction, to learn the techniques that would help me best execute my thoughts. I worked for other designers after graduating and then set up my own studio about 15 years ago. 

Working with clay.

I love how natural and raw it is, and that so much can be done with it. People have been working with clay for thousands of years and we are still coming up with new forms that we can shape it into. There is a side of it that is so instant and ideas can quickly be realised, but if you try and rush the process it lets you know - it has its boundaries!

Your evocative slogans.

I get my inspiration from anywhere: a snippet of a conversation; a song lyric; a thought I can’t shake off. Often when I’m trying to fall asleep at night, the ideas come flooding and so I have to keep a notebook by my bed.

Martha Freud

@marthafreud // Instagram

Clay tile

@marthafreud // Instagram

Music and lyrics.

I love music - I find poetry teamed with a melody makes it more accessible. Working with lyrics, I use an object instead of a tune to challenge the meaning - especially overlooked, everyday objects - then let everyone interpret the words as they need to.

Living and working in London.

I love living in London. The culture and diversity here is so rich and I try to make the most of the art, architecture, theatre and music on my doorstep. All of that soaks into my work. When I’m out of London for the holidays, nature and organic forms take more of an influence.

The making.

I’ll usually “sketch” the idea out first with a rough clay model as I find that often teaches me something. Sometimes I’m able to realise an idea quite quickly, other times it gets re-made again and again before I’m satisfied.

"I get my inspiration from anywhere: a snippet of a conversation; a song lyric; a thought I can’t shake off."

Martha Freud

Slogan plate

@marthafreud // Instagram


"LIT" Candle

@marthafreud // Instagram


The influences behind the scents of the candles.

As I love playing with words, the names of the fragrances include, and then fit inside, the word HEARTH. There are four signature ones:

Hearth is based around Palo Santo and Eucalyptus - a grounding and cleansing scent that’s inspired by the traditional epicentre of the home, the hearth, where people come together to cook and eat, to share stories and to wind down at the end of the day.

Heart is rose and oud, and is my fragrance of love. The sweetness of the rose is balanced by the heaviness of the oud and it’s rather exotic - it’s actually inspired by my mother (my first great love) as she wore rose tea perfume when I was a baby and I have always adored that smell. 

Earth fragrance is based around fig and amber - a love letter to the natural treasures of our earth that support and nourish us.

Art is patchouli and plum and is a very escapist fragrance. It’s invigorating yet dreamy - it’s a great combination and really fills the room.

Slogan of the moment.

“Hear Me Roar.” The recent politics in America is very disturbing. My hope is that the slogan inspires people to come together, support each other and make positive changes. That it will encourage people to use their voice and their vote. We need to look out for each other.

An artist that inspires you.

Es Devlin. I love her work, she is so talented and at the top of her game. She’s clever, vibrant and so responsive to the project.

Next up.

I have a few sculptures and installations that I’m working on at the moment, but I also love connecting with people over art so am working on a couple of collaborations - more to be revealed! I am also plotting to do more workshops so that I can enable others to create.

"BE NICE" plate

@marthafreud // Instagram


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