William Staite Murray

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Thrown Bowl by William Staite Murray

William Staite Murray (1881–1962) was an English studio potter.

Biography[edit]

He was born in Deptford, London and attended pottery classes at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts from 1909 - 1912. He worked with Cuthbert Hamilton, a member of the Vorticist group,[1] at the Yeoman Pottery in Kensington before joining the army in 1915.[2] In 1919, after his military service, he set up his own pottery in Rotherhithe, London in the premises of his brother's engineering and foundry works. Although initially influenced by the avant-garde art of the time he became increasingly interested in early Chinese ceramics, under the influence of which he began making high-fired stoneware in an oil-fired kiln. From Rotherhithe he moved his studio first to Brockley in Kent and then to in 1929 to Bray, Berkshire.[3]

He rejected any need for functionality in his work, regarding his pots as pure art and giving them individual titles.[3] In this respect, he was at variance with Bernard Leach and his followers, for whom functionality was a key tenet. Murray's aim was to raise the profile and reputation of pottery to a level where it would be regarded as equal to painting and sculpture.[4] He was a member of the Seven and Five group of painters and sculptors, and held exhibitions jointly with the painters Ben and Winifred Nicholson and Christopher Wood.[5]

He was made instructor in pottery at the Royal College of Art in London in 1926[6] and became an influential teacher in the 1930s, his pupils including Henry Hammond, Sam Haile,[2] Robert J Washington,[7] and Emma Smith Gillies.[8] In 1940 he went on a three-month visit to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and decided to settle, in part because of the war. He gave up making pottery and died twenty years later although he had a final exhibition in London towards the end of his life.

In Rhodesia he was appointed Trustee of National Arts Council.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Cuthbert Fraser Hamilton". The Modernist Journals Project. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  2. ^ a b "William Staite Murray (1881-1962)". VADS. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  3. ^ a b "William Staite Murray". University of Aberystwyth. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  4. ^ Riddick, Sarah. Pioneer Studio Pottery: The Milner-White Collection. Lund Humphries Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0853315906.
  5. ^ Coatts, Margaret (1997). Pioneers of Modern Craft: twelve essays profiling key figures in the history of twentieth-century craft. Manchester University Press. pp. 50–3. ISBN 978-0-7190-5059-6.
  6. ^ Studio Pottery by Oliver Watson Phaidon Press Ltd ISBN 978-0-7148-2948-7
  7. ^ "R J Washington". Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  8. ^ Soden, Joanna (February 2006). Emma Gillies: Potter and Muse. Edinburgh: Royal Scottish Academy.

External links[edit]