“Things of Beauty Growing”: British Studio Pottery

Thursday, September 14, 2017
Sunday, December 3, 2017

This exhibition will tell the story of studio pottery in Britain, from the 1920s to the present, through the evolution of the vessel form. Jar, bowl, charger, monumental urn: this family of forms ties ceramics to its functional origins. A vessel exists to hold or contain—a purpose it may fulfill literally, metaphorically, or both. The antiquity of the vessel, the familiarity of its shapes and forms, provides a ready-made language, which ceramic artists have for decades invoked and emulated but also distanced, transformed, and renewed. The exhibition will trace the major typologies that have defined studio ceramics since the early twentieth century, such as the mysterious form of the moon jar, originally developed in Korea during the Joseon dynasty and reinterpreted in twentieth-century Britain as an emblem of transcendence. A series of archetypal forms will be presented that mark out a loose chronology, as well as a trajectory of thinking: from the tea bowls that Bernard Leach brought from Japan and shaped into the foundations of British pottery to recent monumental works by Julian Stair, Felicity Aylieff, and Edmund de Waal, which have pushed the medium beyond limits previously imagined.

“Things of Beauty Growing”: British Studio Pottery is being organized by the Yale Center for British Art in partnership with The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, and co-curated by Martina Droth, Deputy Director of Research and Curator of Sculpture at the Center; Glenn Adamson, Senior Research Scholar at the Center; and Simon Olding, Director, Crafts Study Centre, University for the Creative Arts, UK. The organizing curators at The Fitzwilliam Museum are Victoria Avery, Keeper, and Helen Ritchie, Research Assistant, Department of Applied Arts. The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication of the same title, an elegantly assembled catalogue co-edited by Droth, Olding, and Adamson. Co-published with The Fitzwilliam Museum in association with Yale University Press, this book will feature contributions by an international team of scholars and the biographies and portraits of artists presented in the exhibition.

Clare Twomey, Made in China, 2010, installation of approximately eighty porcelain vases, Collection of the artist