The Fitzwilliam Museum has an excellent survey of British studio pottery, Things of Beauty Growing, which I saw the other day. It’s the best survey I’ve seen, and I’ve followed studio pottery since the 1960s. The great change is that the crafts have become a topic of academic study and we now have curators who can combine a dispassionate view of pottery with an understanding of the techniques and preoccupations of the artists.
In the 1960s, studio pottery was a battleground between potters who made different kinds of pottery in different ways and there were futile arguments about the right and wrong sort of ceramics. Pottery is now far more varied and nobody thinks in these terms any more. The full range is represented at the Fitzwilliam, from the late 19th century to the present, and it’s put in context. I was pleased to see work by Christopher Dresser and Keith Murray, who weren’t studio potters but whose work is clearly in dialogue with studio pottery. They would certainly not have been included in the earlier displays.
There is a catalogue with a collection of essays by Glenn Adamson, Martina Droth, Simon Olding, Alison Britton, Kimberley Chandler, Edward Cooke, Penelope Curtis, Tanya Harrod, Imogen Hart, Sequoia Miller and Julian Stair.