Billie Bond’s Kintsugi: The Crack Is Where the Light Gets in

Nadine Waldmann 30 October 2019 min Read

Kintsugi (金継ぎ translates as “gold joinery”) is a Japanese art form and philosophy of repairing broken or cracked pottery with gold or silver colored lacquer. Unlike normal methods of repair, the “damage” is not camouflaged or hidden but is highlighted, revealed and emphasized. Much like the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, this art form sees potency in embracing the flaws and imperfect. These broken pieces become part of the history of the object and are honored and recognized. Billie Bond integrates kintsugi into sculpture.

Classic example of kintsugi technique. Source:

British artist, Billie Bond, integrates this centuries old technique in her portrait sculptures. Since 2014, her exhibits and works explore the kintsugi themes of the broken, redemption and human fragility and strength. Using a variety of sculptural materials, the results are poignant, moving and incorporate kintsugi in a unique and modern way.

Billie Bond was born in 1965 and grew up in Essex, England. Originally a nurse, she eventually went onto design and then studied art. In her words these kintsugi pieces explore the idea that the cracks “make the object better than it was before – it is enriched by its experience.”

Kintsugi Head 1 (2014) was the first piece of Bond’s I came across. The beautifully serene, yet scarred, almost mutilated appearance was so striking. It was part of her Perfect Imperfection – The Art of Healing exhibition, which was her first solo one in London. As with all of the works in this series, it explores trauma and pain, especially psychological, and seeks to uncover and understand it.

Billie Bond, Kintsugi Head 1, Black stoneware, resin, epoxy, gold leaf, 2014. Source: Royal Society of Sculptors.

Stemming from her medical background, there is a great understanding of the human form and function. There is also the element of putting the pieces back together in a very metaphorical sense. Rebuilding, reestablishing with more depth and understanding than before the breakage. Bond says that to her the “creation of realism is the craft, the art begins when I destroy it”. Below the image shows the result of the breakage after she casts the sculpture.

billie bond kintsugi
Smashed ceramic head before kintsugi application. Source:

Principles of Fortitude 1 (2014) shows slightly different coloring and effects the materials have. There is a solemnity and sombreness that is pensive and almost meditative. The figures are self-contained, consumed by their pain and their healing. Here too we feel the fragility and are struck by the gleaming scars.

Billie Bond, Principles of Fortitude 1, Glazed stoneware, resin, 24ct, 2014. Source: Thompson’s Gallery.

Billie Bond, Principles of Fortitude 1. Detail. Source: Decanted Design.

Breathe (2019) is a powerful and enlivening piece. It seems to invoke much more of the initial stages of healing as opposed to the other two. You can feel the figure taking a deep breath with a subtle smile. On her Instagram Bond states:

“Breathe presents aspects of psychological trauma and healing as a physical narrative… The work begins its journey in the traditional sense of realistic representation, then seeks to expand the parameters of the genre beyond a lifelike representation through a process of destruction and repair to convey a journey of grief and trauma to healing and wellbeing. Emotional encounters are imbued into material form. The illuminated resin sections represent an enlightenment through experience. The act of making, destroying and repairing demonstrates a universal metaphorical journey. This work sits quietly and meditatively presenting imperfections, pain and memories – the scars of life.”

billie bond kintsugi
Billie Bond, Breathe, bronze, 2019. Source: Facebook: billie.bond1.

billie bond kintsugi
Billie Bond, Breathe, bronze, 2019. Source: Facebook: billie.bond1.

One of Billie Bond’s most recent projects is a commission by Janssen Pharmaceutical Company and Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks-Europe to “create 5 Kintsugi ceramic objects that visually described the journey of people living with Major Depressive Disorder.” Called “Breaking Depression” the project seeks to better educate and understand mental health.

Breaking Depression: creating the campaign with kintsugi artist Billie Bond. Source: YouTube: Janssen EMEA. October 9, 2019.

The human condition of growth, redemption and healing are timeless and so relate able. Bond’s touching and thoughtful approach to the subject is so modern and respectful. In this time of more understanding and destigmatization of things such as mental health, it is wonderful to see how art like this is such a big part of unfolding our stories and empathy.

Get your daily dose of art

Click and follow us on Google News to stay updated all the time



Cupid and Psyche: Love Story Through Sculpture

Cupid and Psyche, mythological characters immortalized in Metamorphoses by Apuleius, have been inspiring artists through the centuries. Sculptors...

Valeria Kumekina 14 February 2024


The Lansdowne Heracles at the Getty Villa

Heracles (or Hercules) is perhaps the most frequently depicted hero in Greek and Roman art. This sculpture from approximately 125 CE, known as the...

Maya M. Tola 29 December 2022


Five Pioneering Modern Sculpture Artists of India

Sculptures have been a part of Indian culture since time immemorial. However, in the post-independent era in India, the practice of Indian modern...

Guest Profile 7 January 2022

Sun Sculpture

The City Where the Sun Never Sets: The Grounded Sun in Zagreb

No matter the weather conditions, there has always been sun in Zagreb for the last 50 years, 365 days a year, with few interruptions. This is thanks...

Petra Dragasevic 16 December 2021