An uneasy beauty

 image: Gordon Baldwin, Painting in the Form of a Bowl, Earthenware (19 x 31cm), 1984.  Courtesy of Erskine, Hall & Coe Ltd. Photography by Michael Harvey

image: Gordon Baldwin, Painting in the Form of a Bowl, Earthenware (19 x 31cm), 1984.  Courtesy of Erskine, Hall & Coe Ltd. Photography by Michael Harvey

 
 

July 13 2015

Britain’s strong ceramic tradition, which can be traced back to medieval times, culminated in the emergence of studio pottery in the early 20th century. The work of Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada, and subsequently Lucie Rie and Hans Coper, changed the field of ceramics and profoundly influenced generations of makers while courses taught at schools such the Camberwell School of Art and Central School of Art and Design also nurtured many of the great names.

Established in 2011, Erskine, Hall & Coe specialises in both contemporary and 20th century ceramics and its current exhibition features the work of another luminary of British studio ceramics, Gordon Baldwin. Consisting of twenty-five works from the collection of Mike O’Connor, a close friend of Baldwin, this work is mainly from the 1970’s and 80’s. Born in 1932, Baldwin is widely recognised as an influential British studio ceramicist with work represented in many public and private collections worldwide.

Consisting of hand built works, both in earthenware and porcelain, this collection is a lovely reminder of Baldwin’s painterly approach to abstracted form, which sometimes appears uneasy but always demands attention. Of course it is also a reminder of the historiography of British studio ceramics, which is too often overlooked by the art world. There has been an unwillingness to see ceramics on an equal footing with painting and sculpture but I feel that the tide is turning and the value of these objects (aesthetically, culturally and monetary) is finally being recognised.

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Frances McDonald