An Extended Tea Break

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.

Pressed dish, Ash glaze over slip 44cm diameter Photo Steven Yates

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.



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7 Responses to An Extended Tea Break

  1. That book sounds good. I hadn’t come across him untill I saw photos of an exhibition of his work. I expect youv’e seen it but incase you haven’t here’s the link
    My copy of Linda Bloomfield’s book came in the post today just in time for me to look through whilst having a quick lunch.
    I got it for similar reasons to you – I just thought I’ve been working so hard I needed a reward!
    See you at the week-end. Do you know what sort of a place we are in?

  2. Looks brilliant, Hannah. I never heard of the man.

  3. Thanks for sharing Hannah! That looks like something I’d really enjoy reading, too.

  4. Susan says:

    That is on my wish list.
    It may well find it’s way here for Christmas.

  5. Dennis Allen says:

    Love the quote. Thanks for sharing

  6. Paul Jessop says:

    I’ve never heard of him, but will add the book to my wish list.

  7. Christine Smith says:

    Edward (or Eddie Hughes as he was known then) was in the year above me at Corsham. He was one of those students who seemed to know what he was after from the start and quietly got on with it. He was always very gentle, polite and well respected. It was no surprise years later to find out that he had lived in Japan and then of his quiet dedication to his work in his studio in Cumbria. The quest for fame and glory would never have been his. It was a shock to hear of his premature death and I am just so delighted that this book has been produced.

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