Wednesday
Apr182012

Lucy Rie

Several years ago I was at a car boot sale when my friend Helen pointed out an old studio pottery bowl she thought I might like. It was buried under a table in a box containing various assorted bits of 'tat'. I liked its spare elegant form and simple glaze and asked the guy who was selling it how much he wanted for it. I happily parted with the 50p he asked for and proudly walked away with my new bowl.

It is unmarked and I have never discovered who made it but when I discovered the work of Lucy Rie some time later I became convinced that it must have been made by someone who was very influenced by her style of work.

Born in Vienna in 1902, Rie enjoyed considerable success as a potter before fleeing Nazi Austria in 1938 and settling in London. After the war she set up a studio making buttons and brooches for the fashion industry, drawing upon the technical skills and knowledge she had acquired to produce brightly coloured and textured glazes.

Working with Hans Coper, with whom she enjoyed a rich creative partnership, she returned to making vases and bowls in stoneware and porcelain. Their clean-cut modernist shapes and minimal decoration combine a strong sense of form with a sensitive awareness of surface and texture.

She went on to become internationally known and increasingly influential, bringing a connection with design and architecture to British studio pottery. She died in 1995 aged 93.

A large collection of her work is up for sale at Phillips de Pury in London next week. I continue to dream of replacing my car boot 'in-the-style-of-Lucy-Rie' find with the genuine article one day.

Images: 1,3 & 4 photographer unknown (found here) 2. Lucy Rie by Lord Snowdon 4.-8. Phillips de Pury.

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