Janice Woodburn reviews The Pot Book
At first glance this seems like just another coffee table book. However a short perusal will soon show that that is not the case. It is a marvelously entertaining and informative book, covering over 300 makers, styles and schools of ceramics.
Clay is a wonderful material found all over the world and just look what humankind can do with it. Each page is dominated by a beautiful photo illustration, most of them in colour. Below are the details of each ceramist and the illustrated pot or pots. But the fascinating part is the carefully written explanation, giving the reader an insight into the social time and the inspiration and rationale behind each one.
Edmund de Waal came to the world’s attention with the publication of his award-winning memoir The Hare with the Amber Eyes in 2010. Claudia Clare is a ceramic artist and writer whose work is informed by feminism and human rights. Each of them is an artist in his/her own right and a gifted writer; together they have created a published work that will be treasured by people and become one of the heirlooms in the library.
The pots are presented alphabetically so this can lead to some strange juxtapositions, such as: Bertozzi & Carson’s subversive White Tray With Eggs opposite Robin Best’s exquisite Oriental Kangaroo. There is the pure simplicity of Bauhaus and Beatrice Wood, the clever Drinking Tea by Xue Lei and the striking Hollywood Vase by Ettore Sottsass, the challenging White Rocks of Bente Skjottgaard and Shigaraki’s earthy stoneware, classic Spode and work by the surrealist Dali, sculptural white pieces by Ruth Duckworth and delicate, detailed work by Cindy Sherman.
All in all, a treat for anyone who has ever squeezed mud through their hands.