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Bowl, Vortex, c.1929, William Staite Murray © Estate of William Staite Murray. Courtesy of York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)

Bowl, Vortexc.1929, William Staite Murray © Estate of William Staite Murray. Courtesy of York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)

 

The bowl is central to the Japanese tea ceremony, a ritual that involves carefully using and appreciating ceramic vessels and other implements. This focus on a humble, functional, but beautiful object, inspired British Studio Potters.

In many ways, the bowl is the most intimate of all functional forms. Its round, concave form captures the energy of throwing clay on a wheel and mirrors the shape of the potter’s hands when making it. Throwing rings – horizontal lines running around the exterior of the bowl that show how the potter raised the wall with their fingers and thumb - often remain visible.

Bernard Leach collected East Asian bowls, many of which are on display here, accompanied by bowls in the same style, made in Britain by early Studio Potters. Other bowls show a Chinese-style glaze, applied to a more modern form, whilst another echoes the contemporary fine art of 1920s Britain.