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Encounters with Ceramic (Paperback)

The Writings of Tony Birks

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Art > Art History

Imprint: Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
Pages: 176
ISBN: 9781916133679
Published: 28th December 2021



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Tony Birks was a prolific writer on art, particularly in British studio ceramics. This is the first publication to bring together his writings in a single volume.


During the 1970s studio ceramic grew dramatically as a force on the international art scene. In Britain and America particularly, but also across Europe, practice flourished and powerful thinkers sought to define and describe what was happening. It was a dynamic and a controversial time, in which the nature of pottery showed itself capable of radical change. In the decades that followed this outburst, ceramic consolidated into a complex aesthetic and cultural discourse.


Tony Birks was at the heart of this new wave of activity. A consummate writer and an artist himself, he supported what had happened in previous decades to generate a Modern ceramic art, and he championed the new generation blossoming around him. His publications provided crucial support to a discipline barely served by mainstream art history and criticism. He wrote monographs on major established figures, but he also had an extraordinarily perceptive eye for new talent, which served to bring attention to vibrant young artists. A number of these went on to become leading forces on the international scene.


This book gathers together for the first time a comprehensive selection of Tony Birks's writing. A number of the essays are about the nature of ceramic practice, but the majority are about individual practitioners, among them are Bernard Leach, Lucie Rie, Hans Coper, Claudi Casanovas, Tony Hepburn, Andrew Lord, Ruth Duckworth and Takeshi Yasuda. Taken as a whole, the book is a window on the world of ceramic art at a crucial time in its growth - the issues and the personalities - opened for us by one of its most significant critical voices. The book also includes a catalogue of the ceramic works owned by Tony Birks that were gifted to the Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia.

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