I had an unplanned extended tea break today after the postman delivered this book. ‘A Japanese Passion; The Pottery of Edward Hughes’. Last week I figured I’d earned a good dose of beauty and reward after all the rubbish that was occurring at the workshop so I ordered this. I had had a quick flick through a copy earlier in the year so I knew that I wanted to get hold of a copy.
Edward Hughes was an English potter but very little known here, however in Japan it was a different story. I didn’t know his pots barely at all until I spoke to Alex McErlain about him last year, when with his enthusiasm and ability to explain and inform I found yet another person whose work I wanted to know.
Display of cups from the exhibition ‘A Japanese Passion’ Photo Steven Yates
This book has been produced by Alex and by Shizuko Hughes, Edward’s wife and Stephanie Boydell. Alex writes that “Hughes was however very well known in Japan where he studied and worked for several years before returning to Cumbria. In Japan his work was acclaimed for its high quality and perhaps most notably for its usefulness. Hughes devoted his life to making pots for use believing that pots which had that elusive quality he strove so hard to achieve could ultimately bring joy to the person who purchased and used the work. He described it like this:
‘This is the deceptive quality of any great art, watching somebody with consummate skill makes it look easy, but when you actually have to try and learn to do it yourself, you start to realise that it’s a lifetimes work and it is partly the joy of it. It’s a voyage of discovery that goes on until the day we drop, it is that antithesis of what, sadly, we are given mostly by industry, which is such a standardised product, with all the life taken out of it. How do you put life into a pot? Even the likes of Michael Cardew and Bernard Leach found that equally difficult. But it is that desire, I think, to put life into clay, into that work, which is the important thing. Has the person who made it brought life into our lives? You can’t do anything greater than that really: to have that joy of handling, and using everyday in our lives, work that has had life put into it.’ “
I haven’t had the chance to sit and read it fully yet, I read little chunks today but mainly drooled over the images of huge chargers trailed with slips but with thick ash glazes over the top, two stunning tenmoku fluted jugs, and a finger wiped slip charger, oh you’ll just have to get yourselves a copy so that you can enjoy it too. It has been published through Blurb Books, the link to buy it is here ‘A Japenese Passion; The Pottery of Edward Hughes’ Let me know if you get to read it.