Honest Pots shows subtle beauty of handmade ceramics from York Art Gallery's collection

By Ben Miller | 07 October 2010
A photo of a tall olive coloured jug
Work by Devon potter Doug Fitch stars in York Art Gallery's unpretentious Honest Pots show© Doug Fitch
Exhibition: Honest Pots, York Art Gallery, York, from October 9 2010

York Art Gallery's indisputable claim to fame is its possession of one of the finest collections of 20th century pottery in Britain.

Largely donated by Reverend Eric Milner-White (who was the city’s Dean between 1941 and 1963) and Wakefield Librarian Bill Alfred (who was Knighted for his services to studio pottery in 1982), their hoard totals more than 4,000 pieces. It includes important examples by UK studio pottery forefather Bernard Leach, irreverent ceramicist and V&A favourite Phil Eglin and Japanese star Takeshi Yasuda.

This show aims to present some of the highlights, examining the "unpretentious beauty" of handmade, functional ceramics from Medieval jugs to country pottery and contemporary work.

A photo of an olive, black and yellow coloured pot
Paul Young, Dovecote (2007)© Paul Young
One of Yorkshire's last traditional country practitioners, Isaac Button, will have his creations shown alongside numbers by Devon peer Doug Fitch. Films and photographs will also illustrate their skills and evolving methods.

"This is an exhibition which invites viewers to spend time looking at the subtle beauty of traditional, handmade pottery, seeing how it has influenced a whole movement of contemporary potters," says Helen Walsh, the Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts at the Gallery.

"By showcasing magnificent Medieval jugs alongside ones by studio potters such as Mick Casson, or highlighting the rediscovery of country pottery by British contemporary potters, we can reveal their links and invite visitors to interpret the pottery in a way they might not have done so previously."
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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