22 July 2017 - 10 June 2018

Radical Clay

Teaching with the greatest potters of the 1960s

Work by world famous potters was used in Bristol’s classrooms fifty years ago. Run by Bristol Education Committee’s Schools Art Service, and later administered by Avon County Council, the aim was to inspire children’s creativity by showing them the very best in new ceramic work.

This exhibition shows the work of the radical potters collected by the Art Service.  Their ground-breaking work in the late 1950s and early 1960s was creating a new language for ceramics. Alongside post-war optimism and as part of the anti-industrial, anti-consumer counter culture of the ‘60s there was new interest in craft and the handmade.

Encouraging children’s and young people’s creativity was seen as an important part of the strategy for post-war education. Is investing in children’s creativity by showing them the very best still something to aspire to?

Pioneering potters

The most striking thing about the Schools Art Service collection is the number of leading potters of the time represented. These include Bernard Leach and Michael Cardew, ground-breaking makers from the first generation of studio potters who began working in the 1920s and 30s. From the post-war period are examples by Lucy Rie and Hans Coper whose innovative ceramics have become timeless classics.  The Service was also collecting work by contemporary makers, many women, who were developing more sculptural forms.