Discover the major influence of Japanese pottery on the small creative corner of Ditchling in East Sussex in the early-20th century, inspired by renowned potter Shōji Hamada.
The exhibition provides a window into a defining moment of early-20th century art and craft, where collaboration between countries in the East and the West gave way to new creative possibilities. Starting with Shōji Hamada’s (1894-1978) visit to Ditchling in 1921, it explores how Japanese pottery tradition found its way into British studio pottery at the time, and how in turn Hamada was inspired by the creative community of Ditchling.
The exhibition brings together stunning work by Hamada himself, alongside examples from two particular pottery movements – Japanese mingei and British studio pottery. Mingei celebrates the beauty of objects used for everyday use and the fine craftsmanship of Japanese handwork, often created by anonymous artisans. Studio pottery refers to the movement of making pottery in Britain where professional and amateur artists worked alone or in small groups to create unique items, taking responsibility for all stages of manufacture themselves. The artists on display include Bernard Leach, William Staite Murray, the Martin Brothers, O Kenzan VI and Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie.
Other intriguing displays include letters between studio potter Bernard Leach and pioneering hand loom weaver Ethel Mairet – Hamada was particularly inspired by Mairet’s creative home, and the exhibition evokes the feeling of her house which was full to the brim of textiles and ceramics. And examples of weaving from Mairet’s travels to South Asia further demonstrate the influence of the East on the thriving craft community in Ditchling.
This exhibition is supported by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund.
Why you should go
Explore dazzling examples of Japanese mingei and British studio pottery
Discover Ditchling's creative history
Learn about prolific potter Shōji Hamada
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