Honouring a Great Tradition
January 14 2015
I received a press release this week for an exhibition entitled Vessels: The Spirit of Modern British Ceramics. This show is currently taking place at the Mashiko Museum of Ceramic Art in Japan and is in honour of a residency programme recently initiated by the Museum. For those interested in twentieth century British Studio Ceramics, all the superstars are featured; from Bernard Leech and Shoji Hamada, to Lucie Rie and Gordon Baldwin, through to Alison Britton, Julian Stair and Edmund de Waal. I’m also delighted to see Jack Doherty’s well-deserved inclusion in this illustrious group.
However, on viewing images of the show, what really resonates is the reverence and respect shown towards ceramics. Exhibited in glass cases in beautifully lit rooms, this exhibition honours great work and gives the viewer a wonderful sense of the spirit of Studio Ceramics. In one instance, a grouping of four Gwyn Hanssen Pigott pieces sits on a plinth in the centre of a large display case. They exude serenity, importance and beauty. In Japan, ceramics remains an important art form, historical and regional traditions of ceramic production continue to flourish and tea bowls and other pieces continue to be made and used. It would be nice if we could also learn to show that level of respect when exhibiting work like this.