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About this work

This glazed stoneware jar was given by the artist William Staite Murray to Kettle’s Yard creator Jim Ede in 1928. The jar shows Staite Murray’s throwing and glazing techniques, demonstrating the skills that made Staite Murray’s pottery highly appreciated – and expensive – from the early stages of his career. It is said to have been broken by David Jones while visiting Ede’s home in London, and it was subsequently mended in gold by Staite Murray himself, adopting a traditional Japanese technique.

Who is William Staite Murray?

William Staite Murray was one of the most influential British potters of the first half of the twentieth century. A teacher at the Royal College of Art in the 1920s and 30s, he developed his own kiln design and made original earthenware and stoneware pieces decorated with abstract designs. He regarded his pots as fine art rather than functional objects and regularly exhibited them alongside works by painters such as the Nicholsons and Christopher Wood.

Jim Ede and William Staite Murray

In the winter of 1928 Jim Ede published in the magazine Artwork an article in which he compared Staite Murray’s pottery with the work of Ben and Winifred Nicholson. He wrote:

William Staite Murray would like to make pots which couldn’t be seen, pots so inevitably lovely in shape and colour that they become one with the beauty of created life………… Pottery is midway between sculpture and painting…… It is the art of suggestion with the utmost economy, for its immediateness of expression in abstract form approaches more nearly to a songlike quality than any other medium…….. Staite Murray’s work is doing much to restore to pottery its ancient dignity; its execution is perfect and controlled and takes no mean position amongst other branches of plastic art.

It was as a result of this article that Staite Murray gave Jim The Heron.

Where can I see it?

This painting is currently on show in a major exhibition of works from Kettle’s Yard at The Hepworth Wakefield, click here for more, the exhibition runs until 4 September 2016 after which time it will be ‘reimagined’ by artist Anthea Hamilton.