‘Things of Beauty Growing’ spotlights studio pottery
NEW HAVEN » Looking at wellmade ceramics is a pleasurable thing, and unlike paintings in a museum, they’re 3D. So this presents another reason to visit the Yale art museums.
The Yale Center for British Art, in this case, adds in a historical element as its presents what it calls the first major survey of British studio pottery organized in the United States.
In “Things of Beauty Growing: British Studio Pottery,” the Chapel Street museum has put together almost 150 ceramic objects — including vases, bowls, chargers (plates) and monumental forms, as well historic works from China, Japan and Korea. Antiquity is represented in a vase, circa 960–1280, from the Song dynasty in China, for example.
The exhibition is arranged chronologically, from the iconic 17th-century Joseon dynasty moon jar that demonstrates the continuing importance and influence of this form. To illustrate, the opening section of this display presents a series of recent moon jars by the likes of Adam Buick and Nao Matsunaga.
Much of the exhibition revolves around Bernard Leach (1887–1979), aka “the father of British studio pottery,” who saw himself as a conduit between East and West, promoting pottery as a combination of both cultures, as well as something that married art, philosophy, design and craft. His “A Potter’s Book” has never been out of
print since it was published in 1940.
Leach’s studio served as a training ground for many influential potters, including Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie, Michael Cardew, Norah Braden and Richard Batterham.
The exhibition and accompanying Yale University Press book present important ceramics Leach had personally owned in juxtaposition with the innovative pots that were the “exemplars, or standardsetting works, that underpinned his beliefs and lifetime’s work,” said exhibition co-curator Simon Olding in a release.
As for sets, the exhibit juxtaposes handmade coffee and breakfast sets (one-offs) by Leach, Lucie Rie (1902– 1995) and Ruth Duckworth with serially produced tableware designed by Keith Murray and Susie Cooper for commercial purposes.
The exhibition concludes with a series of large-scale contemporary vessels (and standing works of art) by Duckworth, Felicity Aylieff and Lawson Oyekan, among others, which underscores a desire to take the vessel into the realm of larger sculpture.
The exhibition officially opened Thursday and runs through Dec. 3.
Artist unknown, Vase, 960–1280, Song dynasty, China, buff stoneware, incised floral designs painted in dark brown on a white cutaway ground.
Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie in her studio at Kilmington, Wiltshire, ca. 1982.
Felicity Aylieff, Chasing Red, 2006, glazed porcelain, painted in cobalt blue and iron oxide under the glaze and in enamel over the glaze.
Lucie Rie, Bottle with Flaring Lip, 1970s, mixed stoneware and porcelain with glaze.
Adam Buick, Moon Jar, 2016, porcelain with white chun glaze.