chapter  6
19 Pages

The spark that ignited the flame

Hamada Shōji, Paterson’s Gallery, and the birth of English studio pottery
WithJulian Stair

In 1920, the aspiring young potter Hamada Shoji left his job at the Kyoto City Ceramic Research Institute and set off on the long voyage to England with Bernard Leach one of his “grand champions of pottery.” Hamada was at school when he first saw Bernard Leach’s pots in the Mikasa Gallery, Tokyo, where they were exhibited alongside the work of Tomimoto Kenkichi his other “grand champion.” Leach and Hamada arrived in England in what was effectively a period of proto-studio pottery. The Arts and Crafts movement had faltered with the death of key figures such as William Morris and John Ruskin at the turn of the century and was evolving into new organizations such as the Design Industries Association, which promoted reform through industrial design with the slogan “fitness for purpose.” Despite Leach’s endeavors, it was Hamada who broke into the art world in May 1923 with a solo exhibition at the Paterson Gallery at 5 Old Bond Street.