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UAL Research Online

Re-Inventing the Wheel, The Origins of Studio Pottery

Stair, Julian (2002) Re-Inventing the Wheel, The Origins of Studio Pottery. In: The Persistence of Craft: The Applied Arts Today. A&C Black, London, pp. 49-60. ISBN 9780713650013

Type of Research: Book Section
Creators: Stair, Julian

This essay examined the critical precepts and emergence of English Studio pottery between 1910 and the early 1930s. It argues that Roger Fry’s Formalist theories provided a framework for the appreciation of early studio potters such as William Staite Murray, Bernard Leach, and Reginald Wells. This realigned ceramic practice from being the focus of Antiquarian appreciation to an area of Modernist practice. Through his inclusion and appreciation of Fauve ceramics in the exhibition Manet and the Post Impressionists to his primitivist interpretation of early Chinese and English mediaeval pottery, Fry identified the main idioms of early studio pottery. Herbert Read’s ideas of mediaeval pottery as ‘plastic art in its most abstract form’ augmented Fry’s Formalist theories and facilitated the Modernist appreciation of pottery as a form of non-representational art during the 1920s and early 1930s. William Staite Murray, in particular, adopted these ideas and his monumental stoneware pottery and membership of the Seven & Five Society led to Read describing him as ‘a canvas free artist’. This description provided a pivotal contrast to Bernard Leach’s advocacy of neo-vernacular slipware and the ‘Sung Standard’ stoneware that promulgated Ruskin and Morris’s social concerns and ideas on utility and craft.

This chapter drew on my doctorial research Critical Writing on English Studio Pottery: 1910-1940, R.C.A., 2002, which was the first historiography on English 20th century ceramics. I write regularly for English, European and American journals but believe in the importance of grounding critical debate within historical contexts. This research is ongoing and I have given papers at conferences such as Revisioning Reality: International Japonisme, New York University, U.S.A., 2005. This research also informs my writing on the contemporary such as a recent review for Art in America of the potter Ruth Duckworth’s retrospective at the NY Museum of Art & Design.

Official Website: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-persistence-of-craft-9780713650013/
Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: RAE2008 UoA63
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: A&C Black
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Camberwell College of Arts
Date: 2002
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2009 12:26
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2014 15:50
Item ID: 928
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/928

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