They were part of the Japanese, raku influence brought to England in the 1930s by Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada. Hamada would wear homespun tweed suits, buy Eames chairs; Leach would build wood fired kilns and have intellectual apprentices. They were part of a return to the vernacular, the folk, the authentic, the local. Appealing, of course, to the modern urban intellectual of the time: but tea bowls were the mark of seriousness and authenticity for potters for most of the 20C.
in contemporary ceramics, tea-bowls are now considered hopelessly old-fashioned. The few potters making and selling them are dyed in the wool anachronisms.
But, weirdly, the tea bowl is coming back, through the Helmsley + Helmsley, “clean, pure” eating movement. Here, it’s the clean, pure, authentic qualities of the matcha tea that are driving popularity. Making matcha tea requires a certain size, shape, ridges to break up the powder: so the tea bowl is re-invented, re-discovered.
I’ve come back to the tea bowl (gratefully) after being asked to supply some to sell with tea at Lalani. It’s interesting re-making something so iconic for a new audience whose context is so different.
I’m sending work out to galleries for their Christmas shows – and may be opening the studio myself at the end of November – Sat 26th November. I’ll mail out if the date firms up!