The Pot Book


by Edmund de Waal

& Claudia Clare

Janice Woodburn reviews The Pot Book


At first glance this seems like just another coffee table book. However a short perusal will soon show that that is not the case. It is a marvelously entertaining and informative book, covering over 300 makers, styles and schools of ceramics.


Clay is a wonderful material found all over the world and just look what humankind can do with it. Each page is dominated by a beautiful photo illustration, most of them in colour. Below are the details of each ceramist and the illustrated pot or pots. But the fascinating part is the carefully written explanation, giving the reader an insight into the social time and the inspiration and rationale behind each one.


Edmund de Waal came to the world’s attention with the publication of his award-winning memoir The Hare with the Amber Eyes in 2010. Claudia Clare is a ceramic artist and writer whose work is informed by feminism and human rights. Each of them is an artist in his/her own right and a gifted writer; together they have created a published work that will be treasured by people and become one of the heirlooms in the library.


The pots are presented alphabetically so this can lead to some strange juxtapositions, such as: Bertozzi & Carson’s subversive White Tray With Eggs opposite Robin Best’s exquisite Oriental Kangaroo. There is the pure simplicity of Bauhaus and Beatrice Wood, the clever Drinking Tea by Xue Lei and the striking Hollywood Vase by Ettore Sottsass, the challenging White Rocks of Bente Skjottgaard and Shigaraki’s earthy stoneware, classic Spode and work by the surrealist Dali, sculptural white pieces by Ruth Duckworth and delicate, detailed work by Cindy Sherman.


All in all, a treat for anyone who has ever squeezed mud through their hands.


The Pot Book


by Edmund de Waal

& Claudia Clare

ISBN:               978 0 7148 4799 3

Extent:            320 pages

Price:              £29.95

Binding:         Hardback

Publication Date: October 2011

Illus: 300 Colour Illustrations and 50 B&W


Available in larger bookshops or

you can order a copy from Amazon here.


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About the Authors


Edmund de Waal apprenticed as a potter in Canterbury, before studying in Japan and Cambridge. Today his porcelain is in thirty international museum collections: most recently he has created major installations for the V&A and Tate Britain. He is working on exhibitions for museums in the UK and America and on commissions for private clients. Edmund has also written widely on art and ceramics.

In June 210 his The Hare with the Amber Eyes was published by Chatto and Windus, winning the Costa Biography Awards and New Writer of the Year at the Galaxy Book Awards. Edmund has also written widely on art and ceramics and his titles include 20th Century Ceramics, Timeless Beauty: Traditional Japanese Art from the Jeffrey Montgomery Collection, Bernard Leach and New Ceramic Design.


Claudia Clare is a ceramic artist, writer and researcher whose practice is deeply informed by feminism and human rights. She studied at Camberwell College of Art before gaining a PhD at the University of  Westminster. Claudia’s current work follows on from her previous works done in Iran and explores the way that contemporary political martyrs are pictured in relation to the everyday social life of which they were once a part. She has written widely on ceramic art and is a regular contributor to Ceramic Review.

THE POT BOOK explores carefully selected key pieces from all periods, providing the most comprehensive and accessible A to Z overview of ceramics in print. This beautifully illustrated volume features 300 colour photographs, accompanied by de Waal’s writing which gives a clear insight into the techniques involved in both the creation and decoration of these beautiful works. The end of the book contains a set of rarely seen photographs – striking images of the potters themselves in action.

It becomes clear in THE POT BOOK how much the history of ceramic art is ingrained in the history of mankind; from functionality, to display, to ritual. Clay is one of the very first materials ‘invented’ by man. An essential part of our lives, it has been moulded, thrown, glazed, decorated and fired for over 30,000 years. On the surface of these early jugs, vases, dishes, plates, beakers and amphorae, man placed some of his first decorative markings.


In THE POT BOOK, de Waal highlights the versatility and universal appeal of this ancient practice. In more recent times, clay has been used not just by artisans and potters, but also by artists,  designers and architects. This book is perfect for anyone who enjoyed The Hare with the Amber Eyes or loves beautiful objects and innovative design.