Interpreting Ceramics | issue 12 | 2010

Articles & Reviews

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Book Review by Juliet Armstrong

A Guide to Collecting Studio Pottery

Author: Alistair Hawtin
128 pages
A&C Black, London, 2008
Recommended Retail Price in UK £16.99

Contents | Home


by Mary Drach McInnes

The Convergence of Parallel Tangents

by Timothy John Berg

Time, Place, and Perception

by Lawrence A. Bush


by Rory MacDonald


by Michael Jones McKean

Interdisciplinary Mind, Deft Hand

by Annabeth Rosen

To Eat, To Die, To Play

by Linda Sikora


by Linda Sormin


The Hare with Amber Eyes

by Michael Tooby

Modern British Potters and their Studios

by Douglas Phillips

A Guide to Collecting Studio Pottery

by Juliet Armstrong

Ceramics Film Festival

by Leah McLaughlin

Getting it Right

by Alan Wallwork

NB. A Word document is available to download at the end of each article.

This is an excellent book for anyone interested in ceramics whether you are a collector or not. It is a concise guide on how to start collecting ceramics or how to extend your collection in a meaningful way. The book serves as both a reference book and collector’s guide. The text is accessible and comprehensive and will appeal to the connoisseur and the beginner alike along with a scholarly element that embraces everyone who has an interest in studio ceramics.

Although Hawtin focuses mainly on ceramists in the UK generally embracing an Anglo Oriental tradition, this will fortify any potential collector outside the UK to look for the essence that Hawtin describes. He explains how the collector should seek to identify particular elements in the chosen artists’ work with the goal of recognising a style to suit your needs. I think the section on complementing your collection with a display of related drawings or historical items is of assistance to the measured collector, along with useful display advice. I am not a measured collector and have an eclectic gathering of South African auction sale ceramics. I do not have the means to commission ideal display cabinets but am thrilled to notice that Bill Ismay’s ‘collection to die for’ has a fine layer of dust, just like mine!!!

Hawtin’s interviews with collectors range from the ordinary passionate collector to the enviable person who has the funds to pursue and capture the ideal collection. So it is not an exclusive guide on how to blow your money, but encourages the collector not to buy for investment sake but to collect because you love it and need it in your space to enlighten your soul. This is spelt out in the section on recognising a good pot. Ceramic items essentially need to be picked up and handled, turned over and caressed. No one can assess a good pot without holding it to consider the weight and balance of the form. He discloses the secret to a good pot by looking at the foot-rings of the pot, as besides anything else bad foot-rings expose the potter’s technical shortcomings.

The book includes details on notable artists and galleries that stock collectable work, coupled with the pros and cons of collecting seconds or from car boot sales. There is also a section on how to overcome the desperation of breaking a treasured piece, where the author shows a photograph of Bill Marshall examining a repaired charger he made.

The text and cover are studded with exquisite, luminescent photographs by David Binch, illustrating the forms and glazes of the artists Hawtin describes. The glossy print complementing the fine photographs and text take this publication to an ‘upmarket’ level for what I consider an ordinary price. It makes for an excellent present and is essential reference material for anyone interested in contemporary studio ceramics.



© The copyright of all the images in this article rests with the author unless otherwise stated


Book Review by Juliet Armstrong • Issue 12

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