Born in Cartegena, Colombia in April 1970, Rafa comes from a tradition of storytelling and fell early into sculpting.

He spent a lot of time as a young child with his paternal grandfather, immersed in his vivid patchwork of life stories, picking up skills and learning from the older man’s experiences as an engineer and welder.

He felt an early fascination for the behaviour of different materials. When he was 4 his grandfather made chalk for local schools and he’d give the little boy blocks of plaster to keep him occupied, his first experiences of shaping and sculpting.

By 10 he was working wood with his own set of tools.

Rafa studied at the School of Fine Art & Music in Cartagena, Colombia (La Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes Cartegena de Indias) from 1994 to 1999. He was among the last students to be taught by a significant cohort of teachers, including Hector Diaz, Gloria Dias, Teresa Perdomo, Mario Zabaleta, some of them members of the Group of Fifteen. Influenced by European art and skilled in techniques rooted in tradition, they offered an unusual education.

Rafa moved from Colombia to Oxford in 2001.

Originally a sculptor in plaster, then wood, then stone, he works now entirely in ceramics.

He describes as an “itchiness” his curiosity to explore different techniques, constantly seeking out opportunities to learn. Recently, through his involvement in the Oxford Kilns Project, building Japanese Anagama Kilns in Wytham Woods, he expanded his range of firing techniques.

He is developing his knowledge of ash glazes, working on an installation of masks and using his experience of making leaves and flowers for his last exhibition in his current work on a series of Japanese tea bowls.

Rafa is Artist in Residence and tutor at Oxford City College. He also volunteers to run firings at the Anagama Kilns.