LUCIE RIE: Opening Exhibition

April - June 1988

Writing about ceramics in anything other than practical terms is a hazardous enterprise at the best of times. Writing about Lucie Rie’s ceramics is, however, particularly so, since one can imagine only too vividly that kindly but gimlet gaze with which she greets pretentious pottery talk.

As I am no potter and cannot therefore write about glaze recipes, kiln temperatures or slip and grog, what can I say by way of introduction to this exhibition? Only that seeing a Lucie Rie pot for the first time thirty-five years ago was for me an unforgettable excitement, a revelation of a completely new kind of ceramic aesthetic, clean, thrilling and totally modern; and that far from that reaction to her pots diminishing with familiarity, it has returned year after year as, in a near miraculous way, she yet again takes out of her kiln new shapes and new glazes — new yet invested with the same sensibility and sensitivity that is in all her work.

I was once rash enough to suggest to her that, perhaps, as time passes, she need not start potting every day before most of us are out of bed, or go on quite so long with the fatiguing work at the wheel. Once again there came that gimlet gaze. “What else should I do?” she said, “I am a potter.”

She is indeed; and one beyond compare.

Sir David Attenborough

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