The resurgence of British studio pottery in the 20th century changed the ceramics field forever. It was affected by the classical craft of pottery itself alongside the Arts and Crafts movement of the 19th century and the German Bauhaus movement. And British ceramics also developed hugely thanks to the Camberwell School of Art and Central School of Art and Design.
Of this period, these are the studio ceramicists which represent the key players in the movement.
Hans Coper was an influential studio potter who arrived in England as a German refugee in 1939. His work is not only abstract, but decidedly non-functional too, and his style marked a break from the more traditional techniques being used up to that point. Although it was sculptural in nature, Coper typically threw his works on a potter’s wheel. He then altered them by hand later on, creating more conceptual forms through the addition of colour and texture. This was also the point where his pots would take on a more recognisable form.
Coper’s work got widely collected both before his death and after it. These days it can be found in some of the biggest museums in the world, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum, and private collections alike.
Dame Lucie Rie was born in Austria in 1902, coming over to London in 1938 to open a button-making and pottery workshop. She taught at the Camberwell School of Art between 1960 and 1971 and was very instrumental in the development of British studio ceramics.
Rie was awarded an OBE in 1968, a CBE in 1982, and became a Dame in 1991, all in recognition of being one of the 20th century’s most innovative potters. Her work is inspired by the pottery of Ancient Rome, her trips to France and Italy, and the Wiener Werkstätte. It’s instantly recognisable and highly collectable, so if you have got a little something extra after putting down some cash at an online casino, spend it on this!
Rie works in porcelain and stoneware and is distinguished by a smooth integration of decoration and form which gives it an incredible dynamism.
Rupert Spira entered the ceramics field in the latter part of the 1970s and is currently exhibited in both private and public collections on a global scale. He trained under Henry Hammond and Michael Cardew. Both of these men are considered to be founding members of the British Studio Pottery movement. Later on, Spira was influenced by Francis Lucille, the American spiritualist. He is behind Spira’s continuing interest in mediation and philosophy.
Spira’s technical ability allows him to work a huge scale without losing any attention to decoration and detail. He also occasionally includes poetic texts on the surfaces of his pieces, authoring these himself sometimes.
Spira’s elegant combination of form, poetry, and surface is what places his work at the very centre of the contemporary British studio ceramics movement.