Pottery that inspired the language of ceramics is on show at museum

July 28 2017

A new pottery exhibition has opened at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Radical Clay: Teaching with the greatest potters of the 1960s showcases the studio pottery which formed the Schools Art Service collection given to the museum in 2004.

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A new pottery exhibition has opened at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Radical Clay: Teaching with the greatest potters of the 1960s showcases the studio pottery which formed the Schools Art Service collection given to the museum in 2004. 

Fifty years ago Bristol school children had the work of world-famous potters in their classrooms. Pieces from some of the leading potters of the time including curious shapes by Hans Coper and Lucy Rie, and enormous thrown vases by Janet Leach were used to inspire children by showing them the very best.  

 The display includes ceramics by the radical potters, including Ruth Duckworth and Gillian Lowndes whose pioneering work in the late 1950s and early 1960s created a new language for ceramics.

 Helen Brown, applied art curator at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, said: “The most striking thing about the collection is how many leading potters of the 20th century are represented. We are reviving some of the aims of the collection through a hands-on programme with local schools and a public events programme that will give visitors the chance to have a go at some clay-work themselves and meet some makers.”

 Other work in the collection includes Bernard Leach and Michael Cardew from the first generation of studio potters as well as Lucy Rie and Hans Coper, both refugees whose timeless ceramics were highly acclaimed. 

The ceramics historian, Paul Rice, commenting on the collection in 2003 particularly noted the work by the women potters, Janet Leach, Ruth Duckworth and Gillian Lowndes as being of ‘national interest’ and often of ‘exceptional
quality’.

 The exhibition includes a piece of work by Kate Malone (The Great Pottery Throw Down), made when she was a student at Henbury School in Bristol in the early 1970s. With her interest in creative education, Kate is supporting the show with a programme of talks for schools groups.

 Through recent and archive film footage of pottery techniques and interviews with makers, the exhibition explores how the collection was used in schools and helped to stimulate learning in the 1960s and '70s in what was to be an exciting time for the teaching of ceramics in schools.

 The exhibition is available from 22 July 2017 - 10 June 2018.